BY SHERI TRUSTY
When a mother loses a child to miscarriage or early death, her pain is often magnified by a lack of support. Medical professionals dismiss the trauma, and friends and family can be uncomfortable talking about the loss. That leaves the family to grieve alone on a journey they have no idea how to navigate.
Lauren Gackstetter of Oak Harbor suffered the loss of two children through miscarriage and experienced the pain of the isolation that followed. In the wake of her loss, she created Jacob’s Joy, a nonprofit with a mission to bring support to families who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss and to bring awareness to the trauma those families endure.
Saturday, Oct. 21, Gackstetter hosted the 5th Annual Jacob’s Joy Remembrance Walk at Hopfinger Zimmerman Memorial Park in Port Clinton. Dozens of families gathered at the park to honor the children they’d lost and connect with families who understand their pain. The families had a candlelight vigil at the pond and listened as the names of the children they lost were read aloud by Gackstetter’s mother, Joyce Grimm.
“We’re very grateful for everyone who brought us names so we can always remember them,” Grimm said.
Jacob’s Joy gives care packages to mothers who have lost a child so they will know they are not alone. The care packages include many comfort items, such as a teddy bear, a book, a homemade candle, a bath bomb, lotion, a bracelet and a hand-crocheted blanket by Lu Biery.
Jacob’s Joy has distributed about 75 care packages since it was founded five years ago. They are delivered to local mothers, given to mothers at St. Charles Hospital in Oregon, and mailed to mothers all across the nation.
In addition to bringing comfort to mothers, Jacob’s Joy also focuses on removing the stigma surrounding pregnancy and child loss.
“People don’t talk about pregnancy loss much, and when they do, it’s stigmatized. People don’t want to hear about it, and the families feel isolated,” she said. “It’s important for them to know they’re not alone. It’s hard to go through, and that’s ok.”
For more information about Jacob’s Joy, visit the Jacob’s Joy Facebook page.