South Jersey Nurse Creates Support Group After Losing Son

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A Gloucester County mother is using a tragic experience in her life to help others deal with similar situations.

Parents met up at Kennedy Hospital in Washington Township Tuesday night, May 16th. All were strangers, but all had one thing in common: they have lost a child.

“A lot of people try to understand and they try to be there," says Kimberly Brody-Muckenfuss, a nurse navigator at Kennedy Hospital. "But they just truly don’t understand unless they do lose a child."

Brody-Muckenfuss knows all too well what losing a child is like.

“[On] November 5th, 2015, my son Austin was crossing at a crosswalk in Glassboro on Delsea Drive when he got hit by a car," says Brody-Muckenfuss. "Then later passed on November 6th."

Austin was known as the glue for her blended family. When his parents got married they both had two boys from a previous marriage. After the accident, going on without their glue seemed nearly impossible for the entire family.

“My fear was that I wouldn’t make it," says Brody-Muckenfuss. "But my fear was that I would make it and have to live like this every single day. I just took it day by day, step by step, minute by minute."

The situation was devastating for her. But she did notice one thing that made her smile after losing her loveable 14-year-old son.

“I just loved to talk about Austin, like I just always want to talk about Austin," says Brody-Muckenfuss. "I don’t want people to forget him and I guess it’s kind of like a fear that you’re going to forget him. But I feel like when you’re talking to people that just don’t understand, I always felt like: Am I making them uncomfortable? Am I talking about him too much?"

That feeling made her drawn to others dealing with similar situations.

I would ask myself: Am I making them uncomfortable? Am I talking about him too much?

“We are the only ones that understand," says Brody-Muckenfuss. "We’re in that group that nobody wants to belong to. Really, it’s the only way. A lot of people try to understand and they try to be there. But they truly don’t understand unless they do lose a child. It is the worst thing that could ever happen to somebody; it really is."

So, she had the idea to start a group where she worked — at Kennedy Hospital.

“Kennedy leaped into action and made it happen in just a couple weeks. It was amazing,” says Brody-Muckenfuss.

She’s hoping to provide a relaxed setting where she can help others and vice versa.

“Just parents getting together ... talking about what they’re going through," says Brody-Muckenfuss. "You know crying, laughing, talking about their child, talking about issues that may be happening with their other family members."

She is hoping to have a variety of parents in the groups.

“I hope that I have different stages of grief," says Brody-Muckenfuss. "I would really like to have somebody who just recently lost their child, or they lost their child 30 years ago. it doesn’t matter. I think that we could all add to the group. I think it doesn’t matter if you lose an infant or stillborn baby all the way to if your child was 60 years old and passed away. It doesn’t matter how it happened, it’s just that we lost our child."

The new Parent Bereavement Support Group will be held monthly at Kennedy Hospital in Washington Township, and will be active at Kennedy's Cherry Hill location starting in the fall.

“I feel like there’s so many different issues that you go through, it’s almost like a roller coaster," says Brody-Muckenfuss. "So many factors come in and you don’t know if that’s normal or expected. To be able to talk to somebody who’s been through it or is going through it at the time, it’s nice to get that validation that you’re not the only one feeling that way."

The support group is free and open to any parents in the area. For more information on the group, contact Kimberly Brody Muckenfuss at 

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