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Podcast: Perinatal Grief Support for Families: the Role of Clergy, Congregation and Community

PodcastsIn this podcast, Mr. Darryl Owens, Women's Services Chaplain and grief counselor at the University of North Carolina Hospitals in Chapel Hill, sat down for a conversation with two families who have experienced perinatal loss.

Together, the participants discuss the benefits and limitations of support from clergy, the church community, and individual relationships with God. Mr. Owens also offers advice to fellow clergy on how to provide the best support to bereaving congregants, as well as advice for individuals and families experiencing a loss in their family, or in their congregation.

Entire Podcast
  Listen In the full podcast (21:19), Mr. Owens, Paul and Nicole Alston, and Allison Glover share thoughts about infant loss and the role of clergy and the church community.
Excerpts
  Listen In this excerpt (2:51), Mr. Owens emphasizes the importance for members of the clergy to learn as much about the bereavement process as possible, from a wide range of sources, including members of their own congregations who have experienced a loss.
  Listen In this excerpt (1:35), Mr. Owens draws a distinction between the pastoral care that is given to parishioners experiencing "expected" grief such as when a senior congregant dies, and those experiencing the sudden, unexpected loss of a pregnancy, newborn or infant.
  Listen In this excerpt (6:55), the pastor and the Alston and Glover families interact on the complicated subjects of dealing with a perinatal loss within a congregation, maintaining faith in the face of earthly suffering, and understanding each family's own personal grieving process.
  Listen In this excerpt (0:30), Nicole Alston prompts husband Paul to describe how the loss of their newborn led to the loss of a whole network of friends, which for Pastor Owens illustrates the many complicated and interrelated layers of loss that occur following an unexpected infant death.
  Listen In this excerpt (2:52), the participants discuss the different stages of grief, which are often misunderstood and poorly addressed by friends, family and even the clergy.
  Listen In this excerpt (3:49), Mr. Owens describes the importance for clergy to become familiar with all the phases of grief, recognize grief at any stage, and normalize it for grieving congregants in both biblical and everyday terms.
  Listen In this excerpt (1:39), different points of view emerge on the subject of pairing newly bereaved parents with "mentor" families who have experienced a prior loss.

Darryl Owens, UNC Chapel Hill

Darryl Owens, M.Div., BCC, CT, is Women's Services Chaplain, grief counselor and Chaplain for the perinatal bereavement program at the University of North Carolina Hospitals in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and a board member of the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC).

Skye Foundation

Nicole and Paul Alston established the Skye Foundation in memory of their daughter Skye to raise awareness of placental abruption and other bleeding disorders as they relate to pregnancy..

Allison Glover Allison Glover, C.H.E., is a community health educator and home business coach and has founded Garrett's Voice in memory of her son to offer trainings on risk reduction and bereavement support.