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Support group helps parents through loss

By By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
Aug. 9, 2002
Despite the loss of their son, Shari and John Murray of Meridian say they are fortunate to have had a precious angel in their life for a short, magical time.
The Murrays, who also have two healthy daughters, one 4 years old and the other 10 months old, lost their infant son shortly after his birth in March 1999.
David John Murray had a major heart defect that could not be fixed. The Murrays had learned during the ninth month of pregnancy that their son had a genetic problem.
About a month after the baby died, the Murrays, who lived in Virginia, began attending a support group to deal with their loss.
After moving to Meridian and having a miscarriage in January 2000, the couple formed a similar group here called the Pregnancy And Infant Loss Support group, or PAILS for short.
Group support
A registered nurse, Shari set out to form the PAILS group with the support of the local medical community. She said all local hospitals have supported the effort.
She said she sent information about the group to all local obstetricians, hospitals and churches so representatives there could pass along the information to grieving parents.
The group's logo, designed by her husband, is a pail decorated with the word "on." Sprouting from the pail are the words, "love," "grief" and "hope."
PAILS has had as few as two couples and as many as 10 at monthly meetings. Shari said she has compiled a source library of books and Internet sites to help parents and siblings adjust to their loss.
Focused meetings
At group meetings, Shari typically speaks for the first few minutes and has handouts for the group. Sometimes the group is focused on a particular topic.
Janice Jones, a registered nurse and childbirth educator with Rush Foundation Hospital, helped the group find its first meeting location in the Rush Medical Group Building.
Since June, the group has met at the East Mississippi Electric Power Association at 2128 Highway 39 North an effort to establish a non-medical, central setting easily accessible.
The group also helped Janice through her own loss. Janice is the mother of an 18-year-old son, but she had two miscarriages one in 1999 and one in 2001.
The group: The Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support group is affiliated with SHARE Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support Inc., established in 1977 to serve those touched by the death of a baby.
The purpose: The group brings people together who share a common loss; breaks down feelings of isolation; and puts parents in touch with each other to talk, listen and share concerns.
The focus: The group works with parents who have experienced miscarriage, still-birth and neonatal death the loss of a baby anytime between birth and 4 weeks of age.
The meetings: The group meets at 7 p.m. the second Thursday of each month at East Mississippi Electric Power Association, 2128 Highway 39 North.
Other information: For more information about the group, call Patricia Parnell at 482-5255 or Shari Murray at 679-1783.
The Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support group holds an annual candle lighting service in October, which is designated as Pregnancy and Infant Awareness Month.
Candles are lit and the names of each child represented at the service are read aloud. Shari Murray said the service is to remember the children and to help their families carry on.