Parents Helping Parents...A Neo Fight Listener's Journal
by Katie D. Smith

When my son was stillborn in 1999, I felt that there wasn't anyone that I could turn to for support. But when I called Neo Fight Inc. a few weeks after losing my son, I discovered that there are people that genuinely care and want to help me through my heartache.

Neo Fight Inc. is located in Indiana. It is a non profit organization that is a parent to parent support group for those experiencing a perinatal crisis. Neo Fight has a Help Line that is available any time day or night at 317-255-5242. When someone calls the Neo Fight pager, a call is returned usually within the hour to the caller. Neo Fight matches a person in need of support with another parent that has had a similar experience. If someone from another state would like a listener through Neo Fight that is possible and can be arranged by having a long distance supporter. If the referral can't afford the long distance call, the Neo Fight listener will call the person in need of support!

I've been an active member of Neo Fight for almost three years now. I attend all the meetings to continue my own healing process and offer support to others. I participated in Listener Training last year to become a trained listener, and I'm now the organization's Director of Fundraising. I've also
attended various events involving Neo Fight to volunteer my time such as at the annual Walk to Remember that's held every October by St. Francis Hospital in Beech Grove.

I recently volunteered to keep Neo Fight's pager and handle the referrals and keep track of our phone and referral logs. It's the first time I've done this, and it's an enormous responsibility and very rewarding to be able to help others!

The pager has certainly kept me on my toes for the past several weeks! I've had hang-ups during the middle of the night and the wee hours of the morning before sunrise. That stresses me out more than anything, because I lay awake in bed wondering if someone is out there alone, completely heart broken and in dire need to talk.

Sometimes Neo Fight will get calls from people that don't want a listener, but need information on other resources such as for financial support, insurance help or even funeral arrangements. We have a giant book of resources of contacts with such information. Neo Fight's website also offers a lot of resources at Neo Fight wants to help parents in any way possible. It's so difficult at times for parents to find help when they are going through a difficult time, because it can be hard to concentrate when you're so focused on your baby. It's nice to know
that Neo Fight can help lead parents in the right direction.

This past week was especially emotional for me as a volunteer with Neo Fight. I received a page from a case manager at Anthem. The woman told me she had a referral for Neo Fight. A couple had a baby born earlier this year with chronic lung disease and pulmonary hypertension. Their daughter has been in the hospital since birth on a special life support system. Their little girl's health was rapidly failing this past week, and they made the difficult and selfless decision to end her pain by taking her off of life support. She passed away peacefully in her parents arms. The case manager asked me to
call them to offer support and help.

I spoke with the little angel's dad that evening for about an hour. He told me they were not ready to be matched with a listener, but they would appreciate me calling and checking up on them over the next few months. He also wanted some other information on various support which I gave him. He asked me if I would call his wife over the next few weeks to check up on her as she's really needing the extra support more than him. I certainly don't mind doing that, because I know how important as a parent that has lost a baby to need all the emotional support and friends that one can possibly get.

I asked him when the funeral was going to be held and he gave me that information. The next day, I noticed an error in the local paper regarding their daughter's obituary. I called the family to confirm the error and asked if I could call the news paper on their behalf to get the correction made. They were so thankful for that extra help. I had no problem with getting the newspaper to make the necessary correction. The family had enough to deal with; they didn't need to worry about making calls for
corrections on their daughter's obituary. I had to make all my own arrangements for my son with hardly any help, and I just wanted to make it a little easier on someone else going through the same thing.

The father of this precious angel asked me if I would come to their daughter's wake. I agreed, because I wanted to be able to reach out with loving arms to this family. The night before her wake, I put together a little Neo Fight care package for them. I included a special sympathy card geared for parents that have lost a baby along with Neo Fight's February Birthstone Angel Suncatcher, literature about Neo Fight and KotaPress' grief support book, "Mrs. Duck and the Woman," by Kara Jones. They were very grateful for my participation at their daughter's wake, and thanked me for coming and offering my support.

I told the little angel's dad that Neo Fight is for all parents, grandparents and anyone needing support. I let him know that we have dads at Neo Fight that can talk to him, if he'd feel more comfortable talking with a man rather than a woman about his grief. I gave both parents a hug and admired how
beautiful their daughter looked at the wake.

I hadn't seen a baby in person that had died since I saw my own son. It brought back so many memories to me. It was so sad. Their daughter looked so peaceful. She truly is an angel! I wanted to stay strong for the parents, so I didn't cry until after I left the funeral home. I cried both for their daughter and for my son. I think attending that wake to support another couple also helped me and made me a little stronger.

It truly is a warm and fulfilling feeling on the inside to be able to help others! Being a Neo Fight Listener isn't just about listening. It's about being able and willing to reach out to others during times of need! I think there's an angel in all of us that have the ability to help people. You don't need to be a volunteer for an organization or have special training to help others. You just have to offer your love, support and friendship to be able to help one another!

I'd like to wish all bereaved parents a Happy Mother's and Father's Day this year and every year! Even though our babies aren't with us, we are still all parents to our children!

Author Biography
Katie is Charles' mommy, a children's book writer, and an active Neo Fight member.

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