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Parent Stories


Daniel Christopher Cooper was born in the month of December and died a day later from respiratory distress. Near the time of Dan’s death, the Coopers purchased a canoe for camping trips with their other son, Ashley. George decided to have the name “Missing One” painted on the side of the canoe as a part of his recovery, as it created a sense of peace within him.

Parentcare was the one resource that allowed me to deal with my grief. If Gigi and I would have had to deal with our grief alone, our recovery would have been much more difficult and certainly much longer. Although it has been more than 40 years since I was in Parentcare, I still vividly recall the healing affect and support it gave me.

Parentcare allowed me to tell the story of our son, Dan, and how I felt about his unexpected death. Friends and family could not have served my need to tell the story. It was too painful for them, and they hated to see me in pain. The folks in Parentcare were happy for me to tell the story of Dan, and they wanted to hear how I felt. It was also very helpful for me to hear the story of their child.

I remember a saying from Parentcare that served me well, “Get rid of the garbage, or you will rot.” This is the truth. I still can feel the therapeutic effect of Parentcare. If newly-bereaved parents do not go to Parentcare, I can assure you that they will need to go to a very similar program or expect their recovery to take a long time.


Jack Edmund Stephenson, was stillborn at 9 months in the Spring.

Parentcare saved my sanity! It allowed me to vent all my anger, pain and frustration without feeling like a freak. When our son died, I often felt isolated and very alone. But I could go to a meeting and be with people who actually GOT IT – people who understood exactly what I was talking about and who were experiencing very similar situations in the “outside world.” Parentcare gave me the opportunity to be with people who REALLY cared, not because they had to, but because they knew how to. I know I am always welcome, and I can drop in whenever I need that little extra support to get me through a rough patch.  

My husband and I attended our first meeting 2 weeks after we lost our son, and I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND attending a meeting as soon as possible after such a loss. Honestly, I didn't think I would even be able to talk. I was terrified because it was something I had never done before and something I never envisioned having to do! Yes, the first meeting was tough, but we kept going back because we knew it was helping us. I felt like I crawled into a deep, dark hole when our son died. And the only time I really came out was when I went to a Parentcare meeting. It helped me slowly (and I stress "slowly") get my life back. It was so comforting and reassuring to be around people who had similar experiences and who really understood our pain.  


Daughter Caroline was stillborn 11 days before her due date after a cord compression accident. Caroline’s memorial service was held on her due date. Joy and her family welcomed a happy and healthy son into their lives two years later.

The Parentcare group provided me with tremendous support when I needed it most. My husband and I lost our first child, a full-term daughter named Caroline, in February. The group provided me an outlet to talk about Caroline and what she means to my husband and I. Parentcare supported me when holidays, birthdays and other reminders of Caroline occurred. In turn, I learned a lot from other families who had lost babies. Sometimes group members would suggest books or resources that they had found helpful.

Parentcare was there for me both when my grief was relatively new and when my husband I went through our second pregnancy. The group provided a place where I could talk about Caroline long after our friends and relatives thought I was over the loss. Each time I told Caroline's story, I remembered different details, and this helped me work through my grief. It also helped me work through the anxieties associated with a second pregnancy.

Lil Galphin (the facilitator) is a wonderful resource for bereaved parents. It takes a very special person to host a group of grieving parents twice a month. Even in the midst of grieving, you can learn a lot about compassion from the other parents. Hearing other families' stories of losing children lets you know that you're not alone.   

Our society is very good about being happy and excited during pregnancy and birth. No one thinks about a baby dying, unless you've had to deal with such a loss. From my experience I would say that our society does not support grieving parents well. The Parentcare group provides a place where you can talk to other parents about your hopes and dreams for your baby who died. Everyone's story is important and you can learn a lot from other members.


Twin Kaitlyn (born along with Elizabeth at 32 1/7 weeks) died without explanation the day after she was born. Karen had been told throughout her pregnancy that if she could just make it to 32 weeks, all would be fine.

Parentcare has provided a support group of people who can truly understand your grief. Losing an infant is so different than other types of loss because fewer people experience it, and if they do, they don't share this information. Therefore, Parentcare provides that outlet. Lil, the group facilitator, has been a blessing to us. I can't express how much we appreciate her support and understanding.  

My feelings of grief, sadness, anger, bitterness, etc. were not only validated but confirmed. Parentcare gave me the opportunity to talk about our precious daughter without someone trying to make you feel better about it. The group simply listens and empathizes. Your friends and family are not always comfortable with your grief because they do not want to see you hurting. The Parentcare group allows you to be sad and work through your grief in your own way and time.  

I think that it probably is very hard for most people to make themselves go to a meeting the first time because no one wants to be a part of this group. You wish there wasn't a need to go. However, going to the meetings releases some of the feelings you're keeping inside. It is a place where parents can celebrate their lost child/children. You are surrounded by understanding.  

We lost our daughter Kaitlyn, who is a twin to Elizabeth. I think it's particularly hard to lose one or more of multiples because you're having all the emotions at once, and you don't have all the time you need to grieve. Also, other people expect you to be grateful for the child who did live. Having a living child also gives outsiders the opportunity to ignore your grief and lost child because they focus on your child at home. We were concerned that we might be met with this attitude when we attended Parentcare since most of those parents would be grieving the loss of a single or only child. Fortunately, this was not the case, and those parents completely understood our feelings of loss. Some were even able to understand the intricacies of the mix of emotions.


Katherine Margaret Slifer (Kate) was stillborn due to an undetermined cause at 30 weeks.

Parentcare was a place my husband and I could go where everyone really understood what the loss of our child meant to us. Many of our friends and family thought of our baby girl as an abstraction, but she was real to us. It gave us a place to go and talk about her and what her death meant to us – as individuals and as a family. It gave us a place to say her name.

Knowing that you are not alone in this terrible experience is comforting. Lil (the facilitator) and the other participants in the group were invaluable sources of wisdom. They suggested everything from ways to respond to “clumsy” people to how to commemorate the birth and death of our daughter Kate.

I became pregnant again shortly after losing our daughter. Parentcare was a place that helped me to stay grounded and in the present, not the recent past. I think I would have gone crazy if I hadn’t gone to Parentcare. When all of my well-meaning friends were telling me that I should be positive, Parentcare was the outlet that I needed to express my fears and concerns and realize that they couldn't rule my life. Parentcare is a place where you can begin to heal.


Melissa, born at 28 weeks, died from a brain hemorrhage after 30 hours of life.

After the unexpected death of my first baby, Melissa Ferne, I was pretty much mad at the world and everyone in it (including my husband), as well as being mad at God. After all, it wasn't my fault, and I couldn't find anyone else to blame, so it must have been God’s fault – and why were we being punished? Parentcare saved my life! I was able to meet and communicate and grieve with others who knew the same horrible grief that I knew. At those meetings, with the facilitator Lil’s guidance, talking and listening, learning facts, making sustaining friendships, I was able to grieve, to go through those awful (but necessary) stages of grief, and to come back to the "living" side of life.

Grieving the death of a baby puts you on a very alone, remote island of life unless you can talk to others who know exactly how you feel – there is no other feeling of grief like it. You often feel you are not "living," but just going through some motions of life. You need to be able to share your feelings, out loud, with others who truly understand and cry with them. People "share" at Parentcare at different times and different paces. Everyone has a chance to "talk and tell your story and your feelings," but if you don't want to, you don't have to. 

I've often said that I would not wish that grief on my worst enemy; but at times when I was suffering and feeling my lowest emotionally, I guiltily wished others would feel it so I could share my terrible pain – and that is not an emotional place that anyone needs to stay in! And no matter the circumstances of the death, the death of your baby is a shock, and parents/siblings/friends/relatives just do not understand (though they try their best to help). Also, spouses usually deal with it in different time frames and in very different ways. Talk about marital strain! It's just a fact that men and women, moms and dads just grieve differently! 

I needed to talk and talk and listen to others and listen to others some more and connect with other people both emotionally and physically (by seeing them and being with them). That is where my strength came from – the friendships I developed in those Parentcare meetings, because I certainly hated God and could not turn to God or to my faith (since I felt I had none left). And I am blessed to have made some life-long friends from Parentcare.

Like most other circumstances, no one truly understands if they, too, have not suffered the same thing! People who love you try to help; people say stupid things, such as, "Oh, you're young; you can always have another baby." And typically the people who have babies are "young" adults – and have, fortunately, never had many (or any) life occurrences where they even had to grieve much. So, this grief thing is a whole new experience. And we had no clue how to face it and deal with it! Parentcare helped me understand that you did the best that you could at the time, that you made the best decisions you could at the time (because grieving parents always second-guess any decisions they had made or things they did) and that others are trying their best and saying anything they can to try to help.

I also learned that when my mind was "way off" and my concentration level was nil, and I did things like put the hot coffee pot in the refrigerator or put the cold milk in the cabinet, that I really was not crazy. Other people did that too. We absolutely had things to laugh about at Parentcare too (though we all thought we could never possibly laugh at anything again).

My friends from Parentcare even supported me when I got pregnant again (and, yes, I was very scared!). They helped me accept and admit that this baby would never replace Melissa, but was an entirely different and separate pregnancy and an entirely new "person," and that I truly needed to recognize that I was going to have another baby and get ready. I knew I was pregnant, obviously, but tried to stay in denial – trying to prepare myself in case something terrible happened again. Fortunately, I had a fairly normal pregnancy and a very healthy baby, Jason and later Lisa! 

Parentcare helps you emotionally to be with others who know what you feel and can understand. As the shock of your baby's death wears off a bit, and everyone else's life goes "back to normal," your "normal" is no longer normal! Your life is forever changed. Meeting people and talking to people who are at all different stages of grief, and stages of hope, gives you hope. 

I only too well remember thinking, “I don't need that group. I can do this myself (wrong!). Why would I want to associate with those people (as if I was not one of them) whose baby has died (as if mine didn't!). I don't want to commit to going to a meeting twice a month.” I decided I'd go just once – just to say that I'd gone, had given it a try, and it didn't help (I'd convinced myself ahead of time that it wouldn't). Then I'd not go back. Wrong again! After that first meeting, I was thankfully hooked, looking forward to each and every meeting.

Go to Parentcare sooner rather than later! From one who has been there, the sooner you begin dealing with your horrific sadness, talking about it, sharing your feelings and being with others who truly understand, the sooner you will begin to feel some emotional relief. It will come. You can be happy again. You can "live" again! It takes effort and time, but you will reach a place where you can remember your precious baby and smile instead of cry. 

When I think of Parentcare now or hear anything about Parentcare, I smile!! That group and those people saved me! They understand! And I will be forever grateful!