One Kentucky Family Is Helping Support Other Families Suffering the Loss of a Child
The loss of a child is one of the most if not the most painful feeling in the world. One Kentucky family is helping support other families suffering through one special event.
WHAT IS THE TEARS FOUNDATION?
The vision for The TEARS Foundation is to meet a global need and provide its program across the world, by providing compassionate support to families who have lost a child with financial assistance to help lift the financial burden of paying for funeral services and offering comprehensive, ongoing bereavement care for bereaved families. The TEARS Foundation was founded in 2002 by Sarah Slack after experiencing the stillbirth of her son, Jesse Curtis Slack, on November 14, 2000. Sarah decided to turn her tragedy into an opportunity to reach out to other families who have lost a baby and make a positive impact in her community.
PARENTS CHOOSE TO HELP GIVE THEIR CHILD A LEGACY
As a parent we all want our children to succeed. From the moment we find out we're expecting a bundle of joy we begin dreaming of who they will become. I am not sure I've ever met one person who instead thought about the gut-wrenching possibility of not getting to see their baby grow up.
For those of us who have faced this hell on earth, it isn't something we would wish on our worst enemy. Instead, we often think of all they would have been.
Angel here and I myself suffered the loss of my beautiful, Kathern Elizabeth, in 2004, after she was laid down for a nap at the babysitter's house. I have often dreamed of who she would have been with each passing year. I have made it my life's mission to share her story and memories with anyone who asks. Sharing my gladness over grief has helped other parents face the darkness and honored her memory.
My dear friend Ryan Tindall also remembers the gut-wrenching pain of losing his own daughter a little over 21 years ago. He's sharing his story this morning;
A little over 21 years ago, I sat in the bedroom of our home and prepared the nursery for our little girl. This was our first child and we had all of the first child equipment that you quickly realize is useless. We had the separate changing table and bassinet, the diaper genie, neonatal headphones that wrap around mom's belly to play classical music to soothe the baby, we had it all! To say that we were excited to start our family was an understatement. My wife started having some pain and spotting some blood, so we did what all first-time parents do, panic! We went to the ER and had the attending doctor calm our fears. He assured us that it was normal and not to worry and had an ultrasound technician come in to double-check everything. We sat in the little sterilized room and watched the old monitor (pre-3D ultrasounds) as she showed us her little feet and hands. She looked perfect and the nurse never said any different. The ER doctor came back into the room and told us that they were going to keep us for observations and they were getting a room ready for us. I remember being almost embarrassed by that. We overreacted and ran to the ER and now they are going to keep us in a room just to calm us down and reassure us. They took us up to our room and a nice young nurse came in to get us settled in. She started discussing the tv remote and the food options for the evening and slipped in that our D&C was scheduled for 9am. I asked what a D&C was, because we didn’t know about any procedures. The nurse, matter-of-factly told us that it was where they go in and remove the baby. I can’t imagine the look I had on my face as a million thoughts swirled through my head. As I processed what she had just said, the only thing that made sense was that she was wrong. She had to have gotten bad information. I shook off her comment and explained that our baby was fine, we had just seen her on the ultrasound and the dr was just keeping us here for observation. She apologized for the confusion and went to clarify what was going on. My mother, my mother-in-law, and my wife (at that time) all stood in the room and discussed how they could mess something like that up. After a few minutes, the nurse came back and asked me to speak with her in the hallway. I walked out of the room expecting an apology. Of course, I didn’t receive one. She told me that she can’t imagine how the Er doctor didn’t tell us, but that our baby was dead. She then instructed me that I needed to go into the room and tell my wife the news. To her, it was just passing information. The same way that you would tell someone they had an ingrown hair that needed to be removed. To me, it was the loss of my child, the loss of my hopes and dreams for her future, the loss of my identity as a father. She walked away and left me standing in the hallway with the knowledge that I couldn’t handle and the task of passing that knowledge on to others that were also not prepared. As I walked into the room, my face and body language told the story much better than the words that were stuck in my throat. 21 years later and those words are still hard to write. The next few days, we were ushered in and out of rooms while the medical field did what they needed to do. They were efficient and professional, but they were also cold and uncaring. We were ushered through the system and sent out the door on the way home still in shock. When we got home and stared into the half-done nursery directly across from the front door, we collapsed again. We were broken and we didn’t get that fixed at the hospital. We sought out counseling and books to read, we joined a support group that met in the basement of the old Welborn offices downtown. We heard of others who had gone through similar situations. We did our best to heal and move on, but our little girl was always right there. Last year, Stacy found out about the TEARS foundation and all the amazing work that they do. She found the closest memorial they had was held by the Georgia chapter just outside Atlanta and set my little girl to be added to their monument. After 20 years, she would finally have a place to rest. A headstone that we can use to remember her. The people who run and volunteer for this foundation are absolute miracle workers and I had to be involved. I had to use what I learned all those years ago to help others that are currently fighting the same battles. I had to give Angel, what we named our little girl, a legacy. So, in honor of her, I set out to start a TEARS chapter here locally. 1 out of every 4 families experience pregnancy loss, and most suffer without the knowledge that help is out there.
BRING THE TEARS FOUNDATION TO KENTUCKY
Ryan and his wonderful family decided they wanted to provide a way for other families to preserve and share the memories of their lost loved ones. Last year they hosted the very first Rock & Walk in Owensboro.
Rock & Walk allows families to walk in memory of the child they wish to honor, and in support of bereaved families in the community. Each dollar raised helps provide funeral assistance, emotional support, and other programs for these families.
This year's event will take place on Saturday, September 17, from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. at Kentucky Wesleyan College.