Measuring The Impact: A Share Chapter’s Story

By: Rebecca Hirst

A Share Chapter Leader shares the story of impacting their rural community with support for pregnancy and infant loss.

Mr. & Mrs. Rich George, members of Share support group in DeKalb, IL, know from personal experience that, “There is no foot too small that it cannot leave an imprint on this world.” (unknown author).

My name is Becca Hirst. Nearly eighteen months ago, I had a miscarriage.  I was fifteen weeks pregnant and excited to welcome our second child into the world. Then I was godsmacked with the news that my baby no longer had a heartbeat. At the time I was very distraught and had nowhere to turn.

Living out in farm country, DeKalb IL, there is not a whole lot of resources. Struggling with the loss, I looked into support groups and found Share at Edward’s Hospital in Naperville, IL.  I had such a good experience with group that I decided we needed one in DeKalb County.

I didn’t know if this would be a feasible goal but I was willing to try.  I hoped and prayed something positive would come from the loss of my baby, and that no other family ever felt alone.

Share Chapter

My first outreach was on Facebook.  On various parent sites, I asked if anyone would be interested in an Miscarriage/Infant Loss Support Group.  The overwhelming response was enough for me to go a step further.

I turned to my Pastor Marty Marks, for guidance and my therapist, Teresa Barnes. Both were heart warmingly open to the idea of creating a group.

Theresa Barnes Pastor Marty Marks

“With the population of DeKalb County growing, we have a duty to serve our residents,” explains Pastor Marty Marks.   

This is a need that was felt by the residents of not only DeKalb but all of the surrounding areas.  We collectively wanted to bring support to those in bereavement.

Marty and Teresa have led this group with knowledge, sensitivity and dedication.  They donated their time and resources to create a space where bereaved parents can find comfort. They are truly gifts to DeKalb County and we are proud of them!

Before we were officially a Share Chapter, the group used to meet once a month, in the conference room, at Immanuel Lutheran Church in DeKalb, IL. Now, we meet at KishHealth Systems a part of Northwestern Hospice facility.

As we gather around the tables we have an opportunity to find solace in our pain. 

Compassion is oozing during the support group meetings. This group does not judge each other’s grief.  We have found through the leadership of Pastor Marty, Teresa and now Erin Mitchell that the path of grief is different for everyone.

Pastor Marty’s grieving philosophy represents all religions as he explains, “It is a necessary part of our human experience. While in some ways I stand by the statement, “There is no wrong way to grieve,” there are also some “best practices” that make the process easier and less painful.  Focusing on positives and what we still have as opposed to dwelling on the loss is an important aspect of this. Also recognizing the anger that may come as natural but finding healthy ways of dealing with it is important.”

When asked to describe the group’s atmosphere, Teresa Barnes replied, “I was particularly impressed with the candid vulnerability that was expressed by the men in the group.  Their honesty about their spiritual journey and the struggle to maintain their faith in the wake of their losses set the tone of honesty and transparency in the group.”

Both have been pivotal in creating the support group.  This group has also received attention from Kish Health Systems.  The hospital has even been inspired to create a committee to improve miscarriage/infant loss patients.

The footprints of their tiny babies will forever be branded on the group members souls.  And Teresa and Pastor Marty’s footprints will be forever etched in DeKalb County.

“Pastor Marty and Teresa have facilitated a spiritual, physical and emotional healing in the wake of our devastating losses.”  (Mr. & Mrs. Wes George, members of the support group.)

About Rebecca Hirst

Becca Rae Hirst has been married for 9 years & has a 3 year old daughter.  Right after college she found a job teaching health education.  She has been lucky enough to have traveled the world & experience life to its fullest. 

From an outsider perspective this type of life didn’t seem feasible. Becca Rae grew up with all odds against her. She grew up very poor, was abused and her mother was incarcerated. She was very self-sufficient at a young age & knew even without role models or guidance she would rise from the ashes.

The best decision Becca Rae ever made was to join the Army National Guard.  This pivotal choice gave her values and purpose. It also opened up many doors for her to flourish.  

Even though she came from nothing she decided to do something with her life.  Being a health teacher she can spread awareness of abuse, drugs, choices, relationships, goals and attitude. 

She thought she had paid her dues as a child but she was wrong.  At 15 weeks pregnant she found out that she miscarried.  Becca knew she had to do more than just mourn alone. That she was here for a greater purpose.  The devastation led her to help create a miscarriage/infant loss support group in DeKalb County.  She couldn’t just let others suffer in silence.   Through it all, she has remained funny, humble, & kind.

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