By Steven Hoffman
When Glen and Karen Powers suffered the loss of their infant daughter three years ago, the Lincoln University, Pa. couple turned to Unite, Inc, a grief support group for parents to help them get through the tragedy. Those meetings were a lifeline during a time of heartbreak. It helped to be able to talk to other parents who had lived through a similar experience.
“We ended up going religiously,” Karen Powers said. “It was such a support for us. The other parents that you are linking with understand what you’re feeling and going through. It was so difficult for us to attend the first group. But my husband and I found it very helpful to keep attending. We can’t imagine how much more difficult it would have been without the support group. The help is very comforting.”
Unite, Inc. has been serving bereaved parents in communities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey for 37 years and is expanding this important source of support to those living in southern Chester County and nearby communities by holding meetings at Jennersville Regional Hospital on the first Tuesday of each month.
The grief support group is for parents who have experienced a miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth, or early infant death. The meetings, which are held in Conference Room B just off the hospital’s main lobby, are free to participants. The next meeting is Tuesday, Aug. 6 from 7:30 to 9 p.m.
“Jennersville Regional Hospital has been very gracious helping us get this going,” Powers said.
She and her husband, who are both trained facilitators, are eager to assist families in need of this special kind of support.
“We’re pleased to be a part of Unite and the group forming at Jennersville Regional Hospital,” she said. “Unite groups recognize that parents need to grieve following the death of their baby. I know how much it helped my husband and me. It helped us tremendously.”
Karen said that she and her husband were helped tremendously by other parents who showed them that there was life beyond the grief. The Powers have an 11-month-old child so now they can show others that there is indeed a light at the end of the tunnel.
Karen said that it will be difficult to serve as facilitators to parents who recently lost a child, but it’s important to be there for them the way that other grieving parents were there when the Powers needed the support.
“We know it’s going to be hard for us, too,” Karen said.
She added that she likes the fact that the Unite, Inc. programs provide assistance for men as well as women.
“Dad’s are suffering, too,” she said.
The group offers emotional support and parent-to-parent sharing on issues related to their loss, but is not considered group therapy. If additional professional support is needed, Unite, Inc. can connect parents to appropriate resources.
Karen said that there is a chance that this program will evolve over time. For example, grieving parents often need help when they begin trying to have another baby, so a program could be developed to assist with that.