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Support Groups

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Star Legacy Foundation support groups are held virtually via synchronous online video and are encrypted for security. All support group facilitators are trained mental health professionals with first-hand experience and/or practice emphasis in perinatal loss.

A grief support group offers a different quality of support and connection that comes from being with people who have also recently experienced a loss. Grief support groups provide emotional support, validation, and education about grief.

Registration is only required once for each group you wish to attend. All groups are free to attend for as long as you wish.

When you join a new support group, you may be nervous about sharing personal issues with people you don't know. So at first, you may benefit from simply listening. Over time, though, contributing your own ideas and experiences can help you get more out of a support group. But remember that support groups aren't a substitute for regular medical care. Let your doctor know that you're participating in a support group. If a support group isn't your thing but you need help coping with your condition or situation, talk to your doctor about counseling or other types of therapy.

What can I expect from a support group?

  • A safe environment where one can tell his or her story and express feelings freely, knowing that others will be understanding, non-judgmental, and supportive.
  • A place for establishing a connection with others to decrease the isolation that grief brings.
  • A forum for understanding common myths about grief and typical grief patterns.
  • A place for people of all faiths to learn from each other through sharing their grief stories in a non-judgmental way.
  • A community that validates and normalizes one’s emotional reactions.
  • A place for learning that there are many different ways to grieve, all of which are natural and acceptable.
  • A resource for gathering articles, poetry, and reading lists to further one’s awareness of the many aspects of grief. Discussion of articles can serve as a springboard for identifying important meanings in one’s own loss and to learn from examples of how others have faced their losses.
  • A place for learning new coping skills, relaxation techniques, stress management skills, and daily survival skills that others in the group have found effective.
  • The opportunity for members to help each other brings strength, confidence, and a new sense of purpose and value.
  • Opportunities to learn ways to create memories and observe anniversaaries and other important milestones.
  • A sounding board where members can present ongoing or new concerns, report on progress or challenges, and safely come back for help when they experience setbacks or backslides in their grief journeys.

Our Support Group Facilitators

JoAnn O'Leary

Joann O'Leary, PHD, MPH, MS, IM-ER(IV)

Dr. O’Leary, holds a B.E.S. and a Masters in Maternal-Child Health from the University of MN. She also has a Masters in Psychology through research from Queens University in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Her Ph.D. is in Work, Community and Family Education and from the University of Minnesota. Her dissertation was The Meaning of Parenting During Pregnancy, After the Loss of a Baby: A Descriptive Phenomenological Study of Parenting a Subsequent Baby Following a Perinatal Loss. She became certified as Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale examiner during her MPH course and moved into a hospital setting working within a High Risk Perinatal Center. Dr. O’Leary’s Ph.D. research was funded by the Bush Foundation. She does research and writing on prenatal parenting; pregnancy and parenting after the loss of a baby, including its impact on fathers and siblings, including adults who were the child in their family born after the loss of a baby. Joann formerly taught CEED online courses: Pregnancy and Birth: An Emerging Perspective on Children’s Development and Pregnancy’s Unexpected Outcomes: Death, Disabilities, and the Impact on Parents and Children–A Guide for Practitioners. Joann lives in Minneapolis, MN with her husband, John.

Bianca Goodrum

Bianca Goodrum, PhD, LPC

Bianca Goodrum has a PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision from the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). Bianca’s Dissertation is entitled “Grief Counselors’ Self-Care and Wellness Practices: A Narrative Inquiry.” Bianca is a Licensed Professional Counselor and resides in San Antonio, Texas. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Health from Texas A&M University in College Station and her Master of Arts degree in Counseling & Guidance from Texas A&M University-San Antonio. Bianca’s research interest consists of Counselor Wellness and the importance of Counselors taking care of themselves while doing the hard work of holding space for their clients and their needs. Bianca had the privilege and honor of working collaboratively with grieving children, adolescents and adults for 5 years at The Children’s Bereavement Center of South Texas in San Antonio. In addition, she has worked at Clarity Child Guidance Center and The Rape Crisis Center in San Antonio. Bianca currently works at Conceivable Resolutions, PLLC a counseling private practice with her father Kenneth E. Goodrum, LPC-S. Bianca works with clients through grief, depression, trauma, anxiety and familial concerns.

Doug Stewart

Doug Stewart, BA, MBA

Doug Stewart joined Star Legacy as a peer companion counselor in 2017 and began facilitating a men’s grief support group in 2019. He and his late wife Denise had a full-term stillbirth of their son David in 1993 determined to be from a complication with the umbilical cord. Doug has a BA in journalism from Drake University and an MBA from the University of Denver. After thirty years in business ownership and consulting, he shifted to non-profit work and currently serves as Interim Executive Director at Love INC-Heartland. Doug supports other non-profits in board and volunteer roles, has six children and lives in Eden Prairie, MN. ”Our loss was devastating as you would expect,” he says, “but some amazing things came from that painful chapter including life-long friendshjps with other couples we met in our grief support group and a reference point with our other children about overcoming adversity.”

Kathleen Massmann, MS, LAMFT

Kathleen Massmann is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and Clinical Director of Healing Moments Counseling. She has over 20 years of experience working with a wide range of clients including individuals, c families and groups. Her bachelor’s degree was obtained from The College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University in English and Philosophy and her Master’s of Science in Mental Health Counseling was obtained from Capella University. Kathleen is a Certified Compassionate Bereavement Care Provider and she is certified by Postpartum Support International. Kathleen enjoys working with a wide variety of clients, and utilizes an eclectic therapy approach tailored to meet the needs of her clients. She utilizes Client-Centered, Compassionate Bereavement Care, EMDR and Holistic Therapy to help clients reach their individual goals. Her belief in the personal power that each individual possesses, guides the therapy process. Her areas of specialty include: perinatal bereavement (pregnancy and infant loss), child loss, traumatic bereavement, postpartum depression, postpartum mood disorders, pregnancy after a loss, serious illness/terminal diagnosis and trauma. Kathleen is a member of Pregnancy & Postpartum Support Minnesota, Postpartum Support International, Pregnancy Loss & Infant Death Alliance, International Stillbirth Alliance and The MISS Foundation Compassionate Bereavement Care Provider Network. In her spare time, Kathleen enjoys gardening, canning and spending time with her husband and children.

Deb Fischer

Debbie Fischer, M.A., LAMFT

Debbie holds a master of arts in marriage and family therapy from St. Mary’s University of MN. After a 20 year career in human resources, where she worked for Target and Walt Disney World, and most recently as the director of HR for a legacy advertising agency in Minneapolis, she elected to return to school and change careers. The decision was driven by her heartbreaking, yet enlightening journey into parenthood. A bereaved mom, who lost 2 sons to stillbirth, and then struggled with secondary infertility and endured multiple rounds of fertility treatments, she felt called to help others who are faced with reproductive health challenges. A specialist in infertility, pregnancy loss, and alternative family building, Debbie works with couples and individuals who have suffered the devastating heartache, and trauma of pregnancy loss. She prepares straight and gay couples and single women and men who wish to pursue IUIs, IVF, donor eggs, donor sperm, donor embryos, and surrogacy. She works with fertility clinics, OB/GYN clinics, surrogacy agencies, and egg donor agencies around the country. She evaluates gestational carriers and egg donors. She is an active professional member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), and Resolve: the National Infertility Association. She is affiliated with the Center for Reproductive Medicine in Minneapolis where she screens potential egg donors. Debbie is honored to be on the advisory board of Fruitful Fertility. She also facilitates Star Legacy’s virtual support group for bereaved parents, and is a past board member of Faith’s Lodge.

Katherine Hyde Hensley, MS, LCMHC-A, LCAS-A

Katherine is a perinatal bereavement psychotherapist and group facilitator skilled in bereavement. Katherine has a broad range of experience and knowledge in the areas of birth, postpartum, child development, infant death, and grief. Katherine earned her BS in Public Health and Child Development and her MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Walden University and received her training as a Certified Postpartum Doula (DONA), certified Birth Doula (DONA), Resolve Through Sharing Perinatal Bereavement Trainer, Perinatal Loss Doula (LDI), and Palliative Care from Harvard Medical School. Each year, Katherine attends multiple national conferences, including Pregnancy Loss and Infant Death Alliance (PLIDA), Pediatric Palliative Care Coalition of North Carolina, and locally takes part with the Perinatal Emotional Health Network since 2010. Katherine’s family changed in 2005 by the Sudden Unexpected Infant Death of her daughter Helen. Since 2008 she has combined her personal and professional experiences to improve the lives of infants, children, and families across WNC. Katherine lives in Asheville, NC with her husband Dave and four children, Elliott 18, Eliza 15, (Helen 14) and Alice 13.

Anna Calix

Anna Calix

Anna joined the Star Legacy Foundation in 2021 as our Spanish support group facilitator. She was born and raised in Honduras and came to the United States to pursue a college degree. She obtained her bachelor’s degree from Augustana College in Rock Island, IL in Pre-medicine, Biology, and Communication Studies. She holds a certificate in Public Health Management from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she is also pursuing a Master’s of Public Health in Health Policy and Administration. The majority of Anna’s career has been in perinatal care. Ever since her first child was stillborn at 40 weeks, she has been dedicated to supporting fellow bereaved parents in their journeys, educating providers on improved perinatal bereavement care, and working to prevent baby loss by sharing best practices with families to keep their babies safe. Anna conducts this work through the organization she founded in memory of her son, Gifts from Liam. Anna also is a Star Legacy Foundation peer companion, co-chair of the Perinatal Alliance of Bereavement Care Providers of Illinois, former bereavement breast milk donor for the Mother’s Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes, and pregnancy and stillbirth researcher and participant. She has presented at numerous workshops and conferences about her experience, raising awareness about pregnancy loss and prevention. Anna lives in the Chicagoland area with her super rainbow son and visits Honduras, where her family lives, as much as possible.

 

Anna se unió a la Star Legacy Foundation en 2021 como nuestra facilitadora del grupo de apoyo en español. Nació y creció en Honduras y vino a los Estados Unidos para obtener un título universitario. Su licenciatura se obtuvo de Augustana College en Rock Island, IL en Pre-medicina, Biología y Comunicación. Posee un certificado en Administración de Salud Pública de la Universidad de Illinois en Chicago, donde también está cursando una Maestría en Salud Pública en Política y Administración de la Salud. La mayor parte de la carrera de Anna ha sido en cuidados perinatales. Desde que su primer hijo nació muerto a las 40 semanas, se ha dedicado a apoyar a otros padres en duelo, a educar a proveedores de salud en la mejora de la atención perinatal para el duelo y a trabajar para prevenir el fallecimiento de bebés, compartiendo las mejores prácticas con familias para mantener seguros a sus bebés. Anna hace esta labor a través de la organización que fundó en memoria de su hijo, Gifts from Liam. Anna también es acompañante para padres de la Star Legacy Foundation, copresidenta de la Perinatal Alliance of Bereavement Care Providers of Illinois, ex donante de leche materna para el Mother’s Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes, e investigadora y participante de investigaciones de embarazos y mortinatos. Ha hecho presentaciones en numerosos talleres y conferencias sobre su experiencia, creando conciencia sobre la pérdida durante el embarazo y su prevención. Anna vive en el área de Chicago con su segundo hijo y visita Honduras, donde vive su familia, lo más posible.es 

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