Welcome to 2017! This is a year we at Share have been anticipating for some time, and we are now here. Share Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support was founded in 1977 by Sister Jane Marie Lamb at St John’s Hospital in Springfield Illinois. At that time, there was very little offered to those who had experienced the tragic loss of a baby. Unfortunately, the expressions of even trained professionals to grieving families was very sadly conveyed in words like “move on,” “get over it,” “you can have another baby.” As we now teach in our Share training to professionals, those caregivers were not intentionally mean-spirited. They were operating in the understanding of the “best practice” and standard of care of their time.
The work of Sister Jane changed all of that forever as she set in motion the beginnings of compassionate perinatal bereavement care. Her approach started simply in that she listened to the voices of bereaved parents. She asked them questions with the intent of discovering what caregivers can do to help make this most horrific of life events even a bit better and what could be done to bring them comfort in the moment and hope for the future.
Much has been learned since Sister Jane first stepped into her role of support to those who are grieving. Many Share Chapters have been established all over the country and even places throughout the world. Hundreds of caregivers have received specialized training enabling them to offer support in the unique grief of perinatal loss. We have learned that support groups can offer an environment for healing for some families and that others may prefer to be supported by written or online materials or one-on-one peer companions. The great news is, whereas in 1977 when there was very little of any of this type of support available, there is now an abundance of growth in all of these modalities of grief care. However, sadly, we know that there are still those who endure their loss without adequate help and support.
That knowledge continues to motivate us and guide our work in perinatal bereavement care at Share. As much as things have changed, we strive to stay true to our roots and the example Sister Jane set for us by continuing to listen to the voices of the parents we serve. We hope to continue the evolution of the standard of care for grief support as well as to continue the mission of awareness of the prevalence of loss. By sharing the always startling CDC statistic that “one in four pregnancies ends in loss,” we begin to chip away at the silence and isolation that often accompanies this tragic event. What we desire most however is to offer the assurance that there is hope and healing after loss occurs. That is why we exist. That is Share’s mission.
As you read through this issue, it is our hope you can travel through time, as we have in assembling these contributions that help us all reflect on where we have come from and what the future might hold. We value the hard work and dedication of those who have given so much of themselves in caring for others; Sister Jane, Cathi Lammert and so many more who have served this mission over the years. But most of all, we honor in remembrance those many little ones whose lives were much to short and their parents who will always carry that ache in their hearts.
So, welcome 2017 as we prepare to celebrate 40 years of Share by continuing to be that refuge of care and the lifeline of hope and healing to so many families enduring the unimaginable pain of the loss of a baby. We are so grateful for the legacy of Sister Jane and are honored to carry it forward by listening to the voice of each parent we are privileged to walk alongside on their path to healing. We invite you to join us in the journey.
Debbie Cochran, RN