DECATUR — Lisa Tipsword-O’Daffer’s baby boy, Kenneth Robert, was stillborn in 1985. Although the tragedy occurred 33 years ago, her heartbreak is still felt.
Tipsword-O’Daffer attends events, such as the Share Walk for Remembrance and Hope, to help her through the tough times.
“It helps make him a person,” she said. “Most people don’t recognize him or know about him.”
The public was invited to Saturday morning’s walk held in Nelson Park.
“It is geared toward families that have lost children to miscarriage, infant loss or stillbirth,” said Karla Thornton, spiritual care minister for HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital. “Some are here that haven’t had a personal loss, but are here to support a friend.”
Nearly 80 participants joined the event, which included children’s games, speakers, prayers and the one-mile memory walk.
Share Support Group was created nearly 30 years ago for those who have experienced the loss of a child. The group meets at 7 p.m. on the second Monday of the month at St. Mary’s Hospital Room G18. Other Share events include the annual Holiday Memorial Service.
Tipsword-O’Daffer has been a member of the group for years, having been a support for many who have experienced similar pain.
“It supports and helps them,” she said. “We are a family.”
As a chaplain for the hospital, Thornton is often called when a family loses a child. “Being at the bedside increased the desire to want to open up to the community and provide more for the families,” she said.
Marsha White is a St. Mary’s employee working in the histology department, which attends to fetuses under 20 weeks or less than 350 grams.
“We are the ones who care for the Share babies,” she said. “We take care of the baby until it leaves to go to the cemetery.”
White also has a personal experience with loss. In 1990, she suffered a miscarriage.
“At that time there was not a lot of support,” she said. “Having this walk has opened a lot of avenues for a lot of people, especially for me. It wasn’t recognized that far back.”
Like many parents, White had an immediate attachment to her child shortly after she found out she was pregnant.
“You don’t have to see them to love them or believe in them,” she said.