Elaine Baum and her husband Al experienced every parent’s nightmare when they got the news that changed their life forever. Their oldest son Al Jr. was a successful businessman, married with three children and two grandchildren when he swerved and rolled his ATV to avoid hitting a deer in Potter County. His death was so unexpected and their grief, initially, was unlike anything they had ever experienced in the 55 years they had been married. Family and friends surrounded them but they were determined to not let this grief hold them hostage.
When their daughter told them Hospice & Community Care’s Pathways Center for Grief & Loss offered a Coping with the Loss of Child support group that was led by a professional grief counselor and co-facilitated by someone who had also lost a child, they decided to attend the group and became hooked. “I learned what compassionate listening was,” Elaine said, fondly recalling how helpful those sessions were for her and her husband over the next several months as they slowly began to heal from the devastation of their loss. “We felt the hole left in our hearts would never change, but talking with other parents started the healing as we shared and were encouraged by the leaders and others. Our faith held and comforted us and we knew we were not traveling this grief journey alone.” She was so impressed by all she had received in terms of support, that after about a year of attending the group, she felt strong enough and decided she wanted to give back to others some of what she felt she had received. She attended the Hospice volunteer training and has not only volunteered as a receptionist at the Pathways Center several afternoons a month but also is helping with the Coping with the Loss of Child group as a co-facilitator herself now, offering the very hope to others that she reached out for herself back then.
Our Loss of a Child support groups are Wednesday, June 26, July 14 and August 28 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Pathways Center for Grief & Loss. There is cost to attend and registration is not required. For more information, call (717) 391-2413 or (800) 924-7610.