December 22, 2021
Courtesy of the Diocese of Manchester
The Catholic Church in New Hampshire
Pictured above: Group Facilitators, from left, Eric Leader, Shannon Osterhoudt, and Nicole Snow.
“Some things in life cannot be fixed. They can only be carried.”
– Megan Devine, Grief Advocate and Therapist
Each of us has or will experience loss at some point in our lives. There is no right way to compare one loss to another, nor is there a guidebook on how to overcome it. Perhaps one of the most challenging losses anyone could ever face is the loss of a child. It goes against the biological order; parents who experience the loss of their child often feel stuck, unsure of how to move forward.
Nicole Snow (LPN, RTS Certified) has seen her share of loss. “I noticed a family had been coming to the hospital after the loss of their baby and had almost no in-person support,” Snow shares. “What’s more, there was no specific support for the father, or for men in general.”
In that moment, Snow and her colleagues, Shannon Osterhoudt (MSW, RTS Certified) and Eric Leader (MSW, RTS Certified), made a change to the perinatal bereavement program at St. Joseph’s Hospital. They expanded it into a six-week group program designed to bring compassion and support to both parents, individually and together.
“Men will often take on the role of the protector when something goes wrong,” Leader explains. They feel the need to suppress their own emotions to fulfill the age-old stigma of male strength, Leader adds, when in reality, they’re suffering, too.
The group focuses on teaching each parent how to cope, both individually and as partners. “One of the tactics we employ is to ask the question, ‘Is this solution-based or support-based?’” Osterhoudt says. She explains when couples experience a loss, sometimes all they need from their partner is a listening ear, but this is not always explicitly expressed.
Along with providing support for both mothers and fathers, the group also is a great place to meet and connect with others in similar circumstances, Osterhoudt says. One of the best ways to foster healing is by sharing our experiences, she adds.
The free, six-week support group takes place in the boardroom at St. Joe’s on the second Wednesday of every month. People do not need to belong to the hospital to join the group — everyone is welcome, no matter how long it has been since they experienced perinatal loss.
If you are interested in learning more about the perinatal bereavement group, contact Nicole Snow at 603-882-3000 ext. 63206 or firstname.lastname@example.org.