The deepest wounds cause some of us to wither. And many take that experience to help others by providing wisdom and perspective.
Lauren VandeBerg saw an unmet need and filled it with her own story.
Today, VandeBerg is a part of a happy family with kids baking cookies in the kitchen, but getting there was a long, hard road.
VandeBerg and her husband have lost five children at different stages of pregnancy, all for different reasons.
“It is the most painful thing that I ever could imagine going through,” she said.
Now, VandeBerg runs one of San Antonio’s newest support groups, addressing the painful and often private topic.
“People come in who have had a miscarriage, lost a child after birth, some come in who’ve had a still birth late in pregnancy. We’ve kind of experience, my husband and I, have experienced all those,” she described. “It’s just a hurt in your chest, a tightness that you feel like is just never ever gonna go away.”
Each time she wanted help and advice from parents who knew her pain, she had trouble finding support in San Antonio. So she started a chapter of Share, a national nonprofit for people who have lost a baby.
At first, VandeBerg had a hard time finding any facility that would donate a meeting space. More than a dozen churches turned her down.
Then, she called University United Methodist.
“It was clear that it would meet the broken-hearted people of our community with something that could bring comfort and peace and hope,” said Associate Pastor Holly Wilson with University United Methodist. “And to us, that’s Jesus’ work. And so we wanted to be a part of that.”
Share is not a faith-based organization or club. There are no fees and the church provides a room and childcare free of charge to best help individuals and couples hungry to heal.
VandeBerg held the first meeting back in September. Soon, they needed a bigger room, because the group grew so quickly.
They meet on the second Monday of every month. The faces change sometimes but the raw emotions and the empathy in the room do not.
Each meeting begins with a candle-lighting, for parents to honor the name of their lost child.
“Oftentimes people don’t talk about their babies,” she said. “They may not hear their baby’s name anywhere else besides the room where we’re meeting. And it just can be really healing, to hear your child’s name.”
Most of the meetings allow grieving parents the time to share their story and their struggle.
“We treat all losses equally difficult,” VandeBerg said. “They are all equally traumatic. Nobody has a loss that is worse than anybody else in our group.”
Now, the VandeBergs have three beautiful children. But they know how hard it can be to have a full house. And the importance of supporting those who do not is why she’s another one of the people who make San Antonio great.
For more information about Share, you can visit the national website here. You can also visit the San Antonio chapter’s official Facebook page here.
You can also contact share facilitators directly:
Meetings are held at University United Methodist Church at 5084 DeZavala Road, San Antonio, TX 78249 on the first floor in the John Wesley Room. Support meetings are the second Monday of each month from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. with the exception of March. In March, they meet on the third Monday of the month.