Share History

A Brief History of Share of Lancaster

Share [originally SHARE] of Lancaster, Inc. was founded in1981 and grew out of the
experience of Kathy Kuhn, a mother whose 9 lb., 3 oz. daughter, Mary, was stillborn at
Hershey Medical Center in 1980. Kathy was one of the first patients at that hospital to
have the opportunity to hold her stillborn infant. When she talked to parents in Lancaster
she realized how fortunate she had been. One parent told her how she never had an
opportunity to see her baby, and that her 10 lb. stillborn daughter had been incinerated,
because that was the standard procedure at the time. Parents were often given no choices
in the matter, except disposal of the body in some cases. Many health care professionals
at the time were ignorant regarding the natural grieving process that parents undergo at
the time of a such a loss and hospital protocols focused on what was perceived to be “best
for the patient” – often inadvertently fostering denial and complicating grief for the
parents.

Convinced that she had benefited from having a more active role in her own bereavement
experience, Kathy contacted Sister Jane Marie Lamb, founder of a group called SHARE
(a Source of Help in Airing and Resolving Experiences) in Springfield, Illinois. The
Illinois SHARE group had begun in 1977 and was established to provide an opportunity
for parents who had experienced the death of a baby to gain comfort and mutual
reassurance from sharing their experiences with one another and to promote adequate
professional response to their bereavement needs. Kathy, along with several nurses and a
hospital chaplain, set out to start a similar group in Lancaster. They contacted local
doctors, nurses, mental health professionals and funeral directors to establish a base of
community support. The first public meeting of Share of Lancaster, Inc. was held on
March 2, 1981—and our organization joined forces with what was to become a national
and international SHARE movement. The National Share Office moved to St. Charles,
Missouri in 1991 and the vision of a few has become the vision of many. As a local
affiliate of the National Share Office, Share pays annual dues that grant us the right to use
the Share logo and name. National Share also expects a portion of any funds raised by
our affiliate and requires our group leaders to maintain a minimum 3 hours of continuing
education every two years. Information on National Share may be found at
http://www.nationalshare.org/

Share then set about providing much-needed services in the Lancaster community. These
included: the education of local hospital personnel regarding more sensitive protocols for
handling the death of baby; the establishment of the no-cost Share Burial program; a 24 –
hour answering service to provide parents with information and support; and the
beginning of support groups for family members who have experienced the death of a
baby. Share’s services have also included at various times—a newsletter, a lending
library of educational and supportive resources for parents, provision of educational
pamphlets for parents and staff, and a blanket project where volunteers sew special
presentation blankets for babies who have died. Individual members of Share have
contributed many hours of their time in efforts to education the community and health
care professionals through programs at local hospitals and through the media. Share
established the Annual Walk to Remember in 2003—an event for families to come
together and share their grief in a supportive environment.

Like every small, non-profit organization, Share of Lancaster has had its peaks and its
valleys in terms of financial health and volunteer support. However, since its landmark
25th anniversary celebration, Share of Lancaster has undergone a significant renewal of
leadership and energy which is leading the way for a bright future of continuing in our
vital work for the grieving families of Lancaster.