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Monday, March 31st, 2014

Group supports those grieving the loss of a baby

By Margie Wuebker
ST. MARYS - Lindsay Monnier believes no foot is so small that it cannot leave an imprint on the world.
She serves as facilitator for Honoring Angels, a local support group for parents, family and friends dealing with the loss of a baby through miscarriage, stillbirth or within the first year of life.
Monnier, a licensed social worker and Minster resident, understands the loss and emptiness members feel. She and her husband, Alex, have four angels - one they had the opportunity to hold following a stillbirth. The others were victims of miscarriages during the early weeks of pregnancy.
"Many women and men grieve silently after a miscarriage, stillbirth or the loss of an infant," she said. "Now there is a place they go to feel supported and understood."
Monnier, who serves as a crisis counselor at Grandview Hospital in Dayton, approached local hospital officials nearly a year ago with the idea for the group, which debuted in October.
One participant, who wished to remain anonymous, said the support group is a place where she can remember her daughter and not feel awkward talking about her.
"I've been to individual therapists to work on depression and anxiety surrounding my grief, but nothing has helped me more than attending the support group," another member said. "Having other women to talk to - women who know how it feels to lose a baby - has been my saving grace. I would never wish this pain on anyone, but it does happen and it happens more than many people realize."
Talking about their loss helps participants realize it's perfectly normal to be angry, depressed and anxious, Monnier said.
"It doesn't matter whether they lost a child six months ago or decades ago," she added. "The loss of a child - even a tiny baby you never got to hold - is a tragedy."
Participants share how family and friends often unwittingly say things that hurt rather than help the situation.
"We've all heard those comments - 'A miscarriage is God's way of correcting something that was wrong with the baby' or 'Look on the bright side. You're young and you can have other children.' Those words hurt so much," Monnier said. "The group allows us to talk about our feelings and our losses in a supportive setting."
One participant equates the support group to a safety zone.
"I feel for the first time since I lost my daughter in 2003 that I am not alone," she said.
Visitors may stop at the meetings at any time. The relaxed atmosphere encourages parents to celebrate their sons and daughters: some bring photographs or special mementoes; others have nothing but memories.
The format includes occasional guest speakers and special activities such as making wooden, heart-shaped memory boxes.
Monnier has distributed flyers to doctor's offices and hospitals throughout the area, seeking those who might find comfort in the support group.
"We don't take turns talking about our losses," she said. "People can share if they wish and come away with the understanding that others feel their loss and understand their pain."

Honoring angels:
What: Support group for those who have lost a baby
When: 10 a.m. the first and third Saturday of each month
Where: conference room five at Joint Township District Memorial Hospital, St. Marys
For more information: Contact Anne Larger, outreach coordinator at Joint Township, at 419-394-6132 or alarger@jtdmh.org.
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