The Share program at SoutheastHEALTH has reached a remarkable milestone. On Feb. 14, the program will mark 35 years of helping nearly 3500 families heal after a miscarriage, stillbirth or newborn loss.
Share began in 1977 at St. John's Hospital in Springfield, IL, by Sister Jane Marie Lamb, OSF. What started as a way of helping just one family has become a nationally-recognized program with more than 100 chapters of Share nationwide.
The history of Share at Southeast Hospital first began in 1984 when Obstetrics nurses Gayle Unverferth and Linda Logan were asked to start a bereavement program at Southeast. After a year of studying different bereavement programs, the nurses realized that Sister Jane's program was the best fit for the Hospital. Approval from Administration was quick and heartfelt, and on Feb. 14, 1985, Sister Jane Marie presented a seminar, "Time for Tears," that also served as the first Share support group meeting. Southeast was the first hospital in the area to respond to the unique needs of families suffering from this devastating loss.
Southeast's Share program is the longest-running, self-sustaining Share program in Missouri and has also been recognized at the national level for its team approach. Through the program, Unverferth and her team take pictures of a family's baby, do impressions of the baby's hands and feet, make Christmas ornaments with the baby's handprints and footprints, and counsel parents on what is normal or not in their grieving process. They also provide materials for parents to teach their other children about their loss, as well as an outfit made from a donated wedding dress for the baby to be buried in, or to be kept by the parents.
The Share team also organizes the Cape County Share Walk each October, which helps families remember their babies lost too soon. The walk is a healing opportunity for families, friends and health care providers that brings community awareness that these lives no matter how small are loved and remembered. At the event, a bereaved parent speaks about his or her experience, each person in attendance writes down the name of the baby they are there for with the list of names read off one at a time, followed by a bubble release. Funds raised from the walk allow the Share program to continue.
All those on the Share team embrace its mission, "striving to set a standard of personalized perinatal bereavement care through a lifetime of support, hope and healing – one family at a time."