Chapter Name: Share Perinatal Loss-Fenton
Chapter Leader: Melanie Schwob, RN
Online Resources: Facebook Page private for the participants in the group
Support Group Information: This group is open to anyone who has experienced or supports someone who has had a miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal loss. All adults are welcome, and there is no cost. We meet at St. Clare Hospital on the third Monday of every month. The meetings are from 7:00-9:00 pm.
I started the group in January of 2014, just two years after starting a bereavement program at the hospital where I am a Labor/Delivery RN. I had prior experience with educating adults over the years, both in the hospital setting as well as in the community, but at the start of the grief support group, had not had any additional formal training in leading a group of this nature. I was nervous! What would I say to these individuals that will help them in their grief journey? Will I be able to create an environment that these families will want to return to? How will I grow the group, and maintain attendance? Every possible question any potential leader asks themselves when faced with an endeavor such as this-I had asked myself! The Share Training had helped me with some of my insecurities, but I still had jitters! I started the group nonetheless.
We are there to listen, to support by our presence and warmth, and to provide resources and an environment where families feel safe to come and talk openly about their lost loved ones.
The group had been advertised on the Share website, as well as with former patients that had experienced a loss at our hospital. On the evening of my first meeting, I had one couple attend. I will admit, that was not a confidence builder! At the second meeting the next month, I had two couples; the couple from the previous month, and one new one. Within six months, I had approximately 5-6 participants and at the end of 2015 I had over 20 families that had attended our group. Some became regular attendees, and others were new from month to month. Some people brought friends and family who supported them; there were other brave souls who attended alone. Over time, long term friendships began to form.
I learned with time that we as leaders are not there to “fix” anyone. We are there to listen, to support by our presence and warmth, and to provide resources and an environment where families feel safe to come and talk openly about their lost loved ones. They often build the courage to express their grief or anger and feel supported and accepted in the process.
I have had couples tell me years after their loss that they don’t know how they would have navigated through their difficult journey without the support of this group.
I am currently starting my 5th year as a leader of this support group. I have found that these families energize me with their courage and trust, as they continue to reach out to support one another. I have had couples tell me years after their loss that they don’t know how they would have navigated through their difficult journey without the support of this group.
With patience, perseverance and a bit of courage from within ourselves, we can learn to assist families in integrating their loss into a “new normal” as they navigate this painful journey of grief. And for me, there is no greater gift.
Melanie joined the Share staff in early 2016. She has over 30 years of nursing experience in labor/delivery/ postpartum. Melanie started a Share Program at a participating hospital in September 2012 and became their chapter coordinator. She also leads a perinatal grief support group. Working with patients as a Labor/Delivery nurse as well as becoming a Share staff member, she is able to provide support, education, and mentoring to her nursing peers as well as the community at large.