As OB Director at Edward Hospital in Naperville, Ill., Pat Bradley, RNC, BS, is well aware of the needs of parents who lose a child to ectopic pregnancy, still birth, miscarriage or newborn death.
This particular group of patients parents whove lost a wished-for child has a great need to be able to talk about it, express it, then have people acknowledge it, Bradley said. So often, especially if its early in a pregnancy, a persons own family or friends are afraid to talk about it. Theyre afraid that theyll upset the mom or the dad. At Edward, the SHARE Group is just the place where patients such as Carrie Wrona find support. [The nurses] gave up a lot of their own time to help us through our healing process, Wrona says.
Wrona and fellow SHARE Group participants Laura Morgan, Stephanie Fiore and Amanda Albaugh met at the monthly meetings, quickly bonded and began planning an annual event of remembrance.Pat Bradley, RNC
By the third meeting, we were discussing forming a group to plan A Walk to Remember, Wrona says.
The annual walk, now in its seventh year, has raised funds for SHARE and the Edward Foundation.
The four of us felt that SHARE had already begun the healing process and was going to continue to be the most significant factor in our healing, so we wanted to be able to give back, Wrona said.
Part of the funds went to a project that hit home with nurses and patients such as Wrona, the Wings of Hope Angel Garden, which opened last summer on the Edward campus. I felt proud to be a part of something so successful and hopeful that other grieving parents would find as much comfort in the garden as I did, Wrona said. I definitely felt the presence of my son, Jacob.
The garden, according to Bradley, is an important extension of the SHARE group. There isnt always a cemetery or a place that they can go to remember this baby, Bradley said.
Geoffrey B. Roehll, a landscape architect from Napervilles Hitchcock Design Group, worked on the project and spoke with Edward nurses during a lunch-and-learn session in February. The garden, according to Roehll, offers patients, families and healthcare professionals a place to reflect.
Along with a fountain, a statue dedicated to late Edward nurse Melissa Plut and various types of paving bricks, the garden offers smells, colors and sounds with plants that bloom at different times of the year. We wanted it to be a quiet, contemplative space, Roehll said. It turned out to be a terrific space.
The garden serves as a welcome memorial to parents such as Wrona, who has fond memories of the care she received at Edward. I dont know how I would have ever survived the day I found out my son had died … without the amazing support of the nurses, Wrona said.
Bradley said stories such as Wronas speak to the personal connection her nurses make with patients.
You develop such a relationship, Bradley said. I always say that thats one of the most difficult nursing assignments, caring for a family whos had a loss like this. But its also the most rewarding because you really do connect on a very basic human level.
Barry Bottino is a regional editor.