Support group helps those grieving after lost child

14 Feb 2013 | Lance Cpl. Scott W. Whiting

Losing an infant during pregnancy is a traumatic experience. Shifting from planning for a child’s arrival to planning a burial emotionally cripples mothers and fathers. Resolve Through Sharing at Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune recently implemented an Infant Loss Support Group to help cope with this unfortunate reality.

Resolve Through Sharing is a support program for parents who suffered a loss due to miscarriage, stillbirth or early infant death. The staff collects mementos of the child for parents, assists with funeral arrangements, and provides a support group for parents to meet and share experiences with others who are struggling with the same issues.

“The group allows people to connect with one another on an emotional level,” said Charles Quarles, an RTS coordinator at the hospital.

Since the founding of the group in June 2012, those needing support meet the fourth Thursday of every month to participate in various activities.

“The group helped me tremendously in dealing with my loss,” said Amanda Hernandez, a co-facilitator of the Infant Loss Support Group meetings. “Other people who experienced the same thing know how it feels, and they know ways to deal with the emotional pain.”

Hernandez’ child, Tyler, was stillborn in 2009. She and her husband were a part of the group ever since its establishment.

“People grieve for many different reasons,” said Hernandez. “They grieve for the moments they’ll never have. Some parents, including me, never got to see their baby’s eyes. My son’s eyes never opened. I never heard my baby cry either. Those are the kinds of things we mourn.”

Quarles agreed losing an infant is a unique tragedy. He works with the group, and said while losing a child is always a terrible heartbreak, when parents’ lose a new-born or fetus, they can only imagine what could have been.

“People picture their daughters on prom night, or they imagine taking their son to the big game,” said Quarles. “When the harsh reality hits, all those hopes and dreams vanish.”

The group works wonders for those who attend the meetings, according to Hernandez. They use various crafts and group discussions to bring the group close.

One of the biggest events they hold is the annual Walk to Remember event at the hospital.

“(Walk to Remember) is a big get-together where we have a large barbeque and fellowship with each other,” said Hernandez. “We all write our children’s names on balloons and let them float away. We normally have three to five families (at meetings), but during our Walk to Remember, we had probably 12 to 14. Parents bring their children, and we all just have a good time together.”

Hernandez explained the group meetings are always a useful way to let out emotions if need be.

“The group gives you security you aren’t alone,” said Hernandez. “It’s a safe place where you can share anything weighing on your mind. There is no judgment in the room.”

Mothers and fathers grieve differently, and the group allows for women to talk to other women who know where they’re coming from, stated Hernandez. Same goes for the men. Sometimes men connect better with other men and women with other women for the simple reason they deal with their feelings differently, she added.

Anyone interested in attending a group meeting can contact Charles Quarles at 450-4072.