Group’s baskets provide grief support, help address issues that face bereaved mothers

Group’s baskets provide grief support, help address issues that face bereaved mothers

Image Credit: Dave Mast

When a woman loses a child in the womb, there is a certain stigma that accompanies it when gathering with other people following the loss. For those who know and understand what the family and especially the mother has gone through, there is an awkward time when people simply don’t know what to say or how to react.

The topic becomes the “elephant in the room,” the thing nobody wants to bring up or discuss, so mothers end up feeling a sense of hopelessness and anxiety when going through the loss.

Forget-Me-Not Baskets has taken on the role of addressing the elephant by providing baskets and boxes of items that are designed to provide grief support to mothers and families coping with the loss of a child.

These items, which include a stuffed animal elephant, can help open the lines of conversation that can aid in the family sharing their journey with others so they can better understand exactly what a family suffering from the loss of a child is going through.

“Kindness is never wasted. It’s free, and it is the most powerful, least costly thing you can do for somebody,” said Sara Ringle, president and founder of Forget-Me-Not Baskets.

Ringle said one of the reasons they chose to implement the elephant as part of their care-giving packages is elephants never forget, and each of these children need to be remembered forever as children.

During the recent brunch for Pomerene Hospital’s Lifting Hearts Bereavement Program, a branch of the hospital designed to deal directly with families grieving from the loss of a child, Ringle had an opportunity to address a room filled with mothers who have experienced the pain that accompanies losing a child during pregnancy, birth or shortly thereafter.

Several of those women shared their stories about how Forget-Me-Not Baskets helped them deal with the struggles they were facing during a very difficult time.

Whether it was the items designed to pamper a mother, items created just for husbands or books that helped parents walk their children through the experience to help them better understand what took place, the baskets have taken on a meaningful purpose for many families.

Forget-Me-Not Baskets offers a variety of basket options including Care Package, Small Bereavement Care Package, Large Bereavement Care Package, Sibling Care Package, Dad’s Bag, Early Loss Bag and the Caring Elephant stuffed animal.

The baskets include books, jewelry with initials of the baby, gifts designed to pamper the mother, a tiny bear with a heart inside in which the mother can keep the heart inside the bear and place the bear itself into the casket of the infant, and other everyday items that can serve as both a reminder and an inspiration celebrating the child.

“Many people don’t know that one-in-four women will experience the loss of a child due to miscarriage, stillbirth or death shortly after delivery,” Ringle said. “Oftentimes, the one-in-four are afraid to talk about it. Many times, they feel like it’s their fault, or they are going to make people uncomfortable, so they suffer in silence. Our goal is to provide something that will help them work through everything they are dealing with. We hope we can provide many tangible remembrance items that people can have to cherish.”

Over the past 15 years, Forget-Me-Not Baskets has gifted families with 6,700 baskets. Ringle said the goal is to get as many baskets and bags as they can into the hands of families in need of something uplifting during a tremendous time of grief.

The baskets also serve another purpose — that being a realization there were people who cared about what they were going through, people willing to help carry the burden, people who were willing to reach out in compassion.

Forget-Me-Not Baskets has connected with several area hospitals that have welcomed the organization’s services and gifts.

“All of this was about taking care of our hurting people and taking care of our hospitals and community,” Ringle said. “Years later people know us, and we have heard so many stories and touched so many people’s lives.”

Someone recently asked Ringle why there are so many more losses because of Forget-Me-Not Baskets’ reaching out to more families.

“There aren’t more losses. We are just reaching more people,” Ringle said. “Whether we are around or not, families are going to experience loss, so the fact that we can provide for them is huge.”

Finally, Ringle shared a story about a woman who reached out to them to express her feelings after receiving a basket.

Ringle said the woman was initially filled with anger they would give her a consolation prize after the loss of her child.

“I thought that was so harsh, but that was her truth,” Ringle said.

The woman rejected the basket’s contents and everything it stood for. She refused to go through the basket. Somehow, the basket made it home with the woman. The woman wrote she eventually picked up the basket and opened it, writing she carefully picked up and held each object, recognizing her baby’s footprints on many of the objects because caring nurses understood the value, even though she didn’t.

Her heart began to warm, and each item became important to her.

“She wrote that a basket that she absolutely hated would forever represent love, comfort and remembrance,” Ringle said. “We can’t change the outcome when it comes to loss. We aren’t trying to take the place of that baby. All we want to do is love you and try to change a bit of your experience. We acknowledge that loss is important.”

The work being done by Forget-Me-Not Baskets hasn’t gone unnoticed. Recently, the organization was honored at the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce banquet with the Worthy Works Award.

Anyone wishing to donate to the mission or inquiring about baskets and bags may email the organization at fmnbaskets@gmail.com or call 330-435-6004. The office is located at 127 E. Liberty St., Suite 390, Wooster. Visit its website at www.forgetmenotbaskets.com.