By Joel Hall
Throughout the month of October, and particularly on Oct. 15, people across the nation took time to remember the lives of children who left the world much too soon.
Both Southern Regional Medical Center (SRMC) and Henry Medical Center (HMC) have made strides, recently, in helping parents who are going through the grieving process.
Wednesday afternoon, on what was national Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remember Day, SRMC hosted a Remembrance Tea for the parents of still-born and miscarried children, as well members of Newborns in Need, Threads of Love, and the Helping Friends Quilting Group -- three regional organizations that sew infant gowns and blankets for bereaved families.
About 30 women gathered in the courtyard of the center to hear inspiring words and receive encouragement from the hospital's ministerial staff.
Amanda Dever, bereavement coordinator for the Women's Life Center at SRMC, said this was the first time the hospital had hosted an event in coordination with the national day of remembrance. She said it is important to provide support to parents who have lost a child, and to let them know that it is OK to talk about their loss.
"Really, a loss of a child is the loss of a dream," said Dever. "It's the loss of hope and the future you wanted for that child. They often feel alone, so it's important to let them know that this is common."
Dever said that one in four pregnancies ends in loss. She said it is common for parents of a lost infant to stay silent, but added that talking about it is often the first step to processing grief.
Last week, Henry Medical Center began offering a free, prenatal bereavement and infant loss support group called "Begin with Good-bye." The classes, offered once a week in eight-week sessions, gives parents a chance to come to terms with their loss.
Wendy Frye, a chaplain at Henry Medical Center, experienced the loss of a child, herself, in 2005. She said parents, who have experienced infant loss, go through "a different kind of grief" and that there is a need to identify and share those experiences.
"The big thing a lot of people ask is what did I do wrong," said Frye. "A lot of women feel like it was their fault that they lost the pregnancy. Did I take one too many Tylenol, did I have too much caffeine? ... There is always the 'if.'
"A lot of times, people need to be able to process those thoughts and express them openly," Frye continued. "It's kind of an extension of the care a family receives when they lose a baby."
"Begin with Good-bye" classes are held every Thursday, from 7-8:30 p.m., at the Education Building of the Henry Medical Center in Stockbridge. For more information, call (678) 604-1054.