HEART helps families grieving with childbirth loss

Lydia Myers knows what it’s like to lose a child before its birth.

That’s why she partnered with Jackie Naginey Hook and licensed mental health counselor Evelyn Ward of HEART of Central Pennsylvania in the beginning of 2010: to help mothers deal with pregnancy loss.

HEART, Helping Empty Arms Recover Together, provides support for those who have experienced pregnancy loss, stillbirth, infant death and/or fertility issues. The group offers programs — one for grieving parents and the other for women experiencing infertility, miscarriage and more — and is sponsored by United Way and Mount Nittany Medical Center.

Another support program called Searching for Wholeness in a Broken Time, was also introduced this past spring, held 6:30 p.m. the fourth Wednesday of each month at the Individual and Family Choices facility, 2214 N. Atherton St.

“The mission is exactly what HEART stands for,” Myers said. “It’s a safe outlet and safe haven for people to share what they’re going through with others who understand.”

Hook said she and Ward created the organization in 2009. Myers joined a year later, when she was setting up a similar group of her own in her living room with mothers who experienced childbirth loss, like herself.

“There wasn’t a need for two groups really, so when I heard about HEART, it seemed like the perfect thing to be a part of and we merged,” Myers said.

Myers said the program is targeted toward women experiencing pregnancy loss. There are 40 members, and it’s growing, she said.

“When you’re at the age of having children but may not be able to get pregnant, or you’ve had a loss, you’re in mourning. You want to be happy for other couples, but it might be hard,” Myers said. “It’s such a taboo topic and may be hard for these women to talk freely about their issues. But here you can be as candid as possible, because the group understands.”

And no matter what group individuals want to be a part of, Hook said there is one mission in mind.

“You’re not alone,” she said. “This is a safe place to share stories and be ears or a shoulder to cry on for others to mourn.”