Media contact: Lisa Parro, senior public relations specialist, Adventist Midwest Health, Lisa.firstname.lastname@example.org
Hinsdale – Five parent volunteers have graduated from a new peer support group at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital that offers counseling to families who have recently lost their baby during pregnancy, birth or infancy. “Still Missed” is the only perinatal support program in the Chicagoland area that trains parents to become peer support volunteers.
Parents who have previously experienced the loss of a child are trained to counsel other families who experience a loss from miscarriage, stillbirth, or newborn death. The five volunteers were coached by grief counselor Cathy Blanford and Rosie Roose, RN, MSN, director of Still Missed. The program is designed to help parents cope with the devastating grief of losing a baby.
One of the volunteers, Pam Clink of Elmhurst, said she was drawn to the program to help others.
“The Still Missed program was so valuable to me because it helped me get through my losses,” said Clink. “I wanted to be able to give that back to another family.”
Roose said the main way to heal is with the right support. This kind of experience can be an extremely painful and lonely time for parents.
“Sometimes family members and friends are unable to offer sufficient support, she said. “But someone who has gone through the experience herself and is trained to help is uniquely prepared to counsel someone.”
The volunteers participated in two, three-hour training sessions where they learned about perinatal loss, elements of grieving, effective listening techniques, cultural and spiritual considerations and available resources. The volunteers worked in small groups so they could share their own experiences and participate in role playing activities that allowed them to practice listening and support skills.
Clink, who became involved with “Still Missed” in 2003 after her baby, Mary, was stillborn, said the peer parent support training gave her the confidence to know how to appropriately counsel the family she has been matched with since late February. She said the program is valuable because it allows families to talk to someone who truly understands what they are going through.
“We wanted to give parents an alternative outlet for support,” said Roose. “A member of the peer parent support team may reach out to the family while they are still in the hospital and then follow up to see how they are doing once they are discharged.”
Roose said the training used the First Candle/SIDS Alliance manual as a starting place. First Candle/SIDS Alliance is an organization dedicated to safe pregnancies and the survival of babies through the first years of life. The volunteers ended their training with a ceremony of remembrance for the babies they lost. She said she hopes to train more volunteers in the fall.
“We sent these parents off knowing the power of healing they can have upon a grieving mother and father,” said Roose. “There were many other parents who were interested in participating in the program.”
Clink said she plans to continue counseling families for as long as possible. “It’s important for those who have lost to know what to expect down the road and that their feelings are normal,” she said.
The Still Missed Parent Support Group meets the second Monday of each month at Tupper Hall, 119 North Oak Street, Hinsdale, directly across from Adventist Hinsdale Hospital. For more information about the program call 630-856-4497.
Adventist Midwest Health includes Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital, Adventist GlenOaks Hospital, Adventist Hinsdale Hospital and Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital. To find a physician, visit www.keepingyouwell.com.