By Worth Kilcrease, Guest Blogger
Hope, defined as a person or thing that may help or save someone, abounds throughout the Ronald McDonald House and Ronald McDonald Family Rooms. There is the hope families have for the recovery of their children. That same hope is shared and fostered by the staff and volunteers, and there is even a mural in the 4th floor Community Room describing hope.
Another way that hope exists is through the H.O.P.E. Perinatal Loss Support Group — a group for those who have had a miscarriage or stillbirth, had to terminate a pregnancy, or lost a child during the first few months of life — that I lead as part of the RMHC Austin Healing Hearts Program. Last month, we ended two of those groups: one on Tuesday evening and the other on Thursday. Once more, I witnessed young parents taking a tragic event and turning it into a transformative experience.
Their resilience brought them back from adversity as they reestablished priorities around love and renewed their hope for the future. Their loss did not define their lives, but helped shape their appreciation for each other and for the wonderfulness of life itself. I have led these groups for nine years and over that time have seen some remarkable things happen.
One of those was in the Fall of 2009 at our annual Remembrance Service held for anyone whose child has died. After this particular service, a woman came up to me and reintroduced herself. She had been in the first group I led six years earlier. I remembered her, her husband, and the anguish they had experienced after their baby died. Then she did a wonderful thing: she introduced me to her 5-year-old son. My heart was thrilled.
Some ask me how I can be a grief counselor – it must be so sad. My reply is that yes, there is sadness, but there is also unequalled joy when I receive a birth announcement or a picture postcard of a newborn. The adage that hope springs eternal is true. It might be in hiding, and we may need to have someone help us find it, or it might change shape and form, but it is still there waiting for us. Just ask those who have been in the HOPE Group.
Worth Kilcrease is an end-of-life and bereavement counselor in Austin. One of his specialties is working with parents who have lost a child, regardless of age. He conducts the grief support groups available through RMHC Austin’s Healing Hearts Program.