On Oct. 20, more than 3,000 St. Louis area residents gathered at Frontier Park in St. Charles for a common purpose: to remember babies lost to miscarriage, stillbirth or early infant death.
The 17th annual event, the Walk for Remembrance and Hope, was part of the caring mission of Share Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support, Inc. With roughly 80 chapters nationwide, the nonprofit has been headquartered in the St. Louis area for more than 40 years, and is located at 402 Jackson St. in St. Charles.
Share provides a wide variety of resources for people who have experienced the unexpected and tragic loss of a baby. Its services include bedside and phone companions for grieving parents, face-to-face and online family support groups, Facebook communities, special memorial events, a newsletter and numerous online informational resources, caregiver training and education programs, and much more.Despite the fact that this multi-faceted organization has been providing healing and help to families in the area for decades, many St. Louisans aren’t aware of the services Share provides, or don’t reach out for help when they need it, according to Executive Director Debbie Cochran.
“Our big issue is still a stigma – unfortunately, after 40 years, many people have no idea that one in four pregnancies ends in loss,” Cochran said. “It’s happening all around us, but it’s something we have not yet made a comfortable conversation. It’s a hard conversation, but it’s one we really need to have.”
If parents receive care in the emergency department or other medical facilities, they are often sent home after losing their baby without receiving any assistance to help them cope, Cochran added. One of those parents was Silvia Torres Bowman, who experienced the loss of her daughter at about 14 weeks of pregnancy in 2007.
“I’ll never forget that day … when I left the hospital, nobody knew what to say or do. Nobody told me about resources like Share. So I sat in front of the computer, knowing I had to do something for myself, and I eventually found the Share organization,” she said.Bowman’s involvement with Share proved to be an invaluable healing resource, and she soon found herself wanting to give back to other parents. In her work with Hispanic parents as a volunteer, Bowman said she found that ingrained cultural traits made them especially reluctant to open up about their pregnancy losses and accept help.
To expand Share’s services within the Hispanic community, both in the St. Louis region and elsewhere, Cochran recently applied for and received a financial grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health. This new outreach, which is being spearheaded locally by Bowman, is called Share Español: Esperanza.
Bowman was among the parents interviewed for a new documentary about the cultural stigmas associated with pregnancy loss and infertility, “Don’t Talk About the Baby,” which was released online Oct. 15.
Parents interested in learning more about Share may call the National Share Office at (636) 947-6164 or visit the organization’s website, nationalshare.org.