The Still Remembered Project

There are some things that people just do not talk about. Topics that people avoid because of discomfort.  Because they don’t know what to say. Because they aren’t really sure how to wrap their minds around what has happened.

Miscarriage, stillbirth, and the early loss of a child are situations that are undoubtedly near the top of that list of topics to avoid.  But for the women and families who have experienced such loss, the grief is very real and is often very lonely. Sometimes nobody (or only a very select few) knows. Other times different understanding of what has happened can lead to hurtful words or avoidance.

Even now, five and four years after losses that left our family reeling, I feel very hesitant to share our story. In some ways it doesn’t even feel like mine to tell, as it was my wife who experienced that loss within her body.  She was the one who had already begun to feel that physical and emotional connection with those tiny people who we would never have the chance to meet on this side of heaven. As sad as I felt, it was she who truly bore that pain of loss.

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But I guess that’s one of the things that make something like miscarriage so disorienting. We don’t always have the right terms to talk about it. We don’t know whose story it is. We don’t know who will listen and understand and care in a way that acknowledges the reality of the loss.

The Still Remembered Project gets this. The women who operate this new Pittsburgh organization understand the sympathy and support needed to help with healing a broken heart, because they have experienced it as well. It is because of her loss that Lauren McLean initially helped form a Christian-based support group for grieving families.

From this support group, a larger mission grew that seeks to offer comfort to grieving families in a number of different fashions. In fact, there are now six different projects to help families heal that come under the Still Remembered Project umbrella.

Still Supported – Still Supported is a monthly peer support group for women who have experienced the loss of a baby (at any gestational stage). It’s a place to share, or listen. An opportunity to be around others who have experienced something similar to you and can understand, at least in part, the loss that you are experiencing. Even if your loss was not recent, you are welcome to attend.

Still Missed – Still Missed focuses specifically on families who are experiencing a miscarriage. One way they do this is by placing care packages with local hospitals and OB offices that can be shared with women after they learn of their miscarriage. It is a small gift to let her know that she is not alone, and that there are people who care about her and the child that was lost.

Still Remembered Memory Boxes – These are provided as bereavement boxes for families after a stillbirth or the death of a newborn. Mothers who experienced a similar loss create the boxes, filling them with items they believe will help the family memorialize the lost child.

Still Family – The Still Family project recognizes that it isn’t always just the mother and father who are disoriented by the loss of a child in pregnancy. There is support available for all family members, but with a special focus on the siblings. When possible, the hospital will provide a sibling bag to families that includes some comforting items and a book titled “We were gonna have a baby, but We had an angel instead.”

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Still Together – Still Together is the community outreach portion of the Still Remembered Project.  Here they seek to partner with medical professionals, hospitals, and other organizations to provide advocacy, education, and awareness of the fact that 25% of women in the United States experience some form of infant loss.

Stitched with Love – Stitched with Love donates handmade knitted, crocheted, and sewn baby blankets to hospitals to be given to families with the belief that every baby, no matter how brief their life, should have a cozy blanket. And every family should have a handmade keepsake to help with remembering their child.Untitled design (8)Please refer to the Still Remembered Project website for greater details on all of these projects and more. There is a wide variety of ways that you can donate or volunteer your time in support of local bereaved families.  And if you or your family have experienced this sort of a loss, please reach out.  You will be welcomed and heard.

On a very personal level, I commend this group to you if you’re grieving this type of loss or know of somebody who is. Their sensitivity and genuine care was obvious in my interactions with them. Sometimes we want to grieve alone.  But at other times it’s helpful to share, and remember that you are not alone.

Ronald McDonald House Charities – Pittsburgh

For a three year period that ended in the Fall of 2000, my younger brother spent more nights at the Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland then he did in our home.  That meant that at least one, if not all, of the rest of the family staying in Cleveland, too.  My Dad manned the couch in Chris’s room every one of those nights, but my Mom and I needed to find an alternate place to stay.

Fortunately, nearby was a Ronald McDonald House.  There we were able to get a comfortable bed, a hot shower, and a place to decompress a little after what sometimes felt like endless hours in the hospital.  Without it, we’d have been making the 90 minute drive home and back every day or paying for a hotel room.  Either option would have stretched out budget/sanity beyond the breaking point after a little while.

If you put yourself in our shoes, it isn’t hard to see how important a Ronald McDonald House an be.  And, truthfully, we were in a better position than most of the other families staying there at the time.  Many had traveled long distances, even from other countries, so that their children could receive necessary care.  Families with a sick child are exhausted and anxious.  Having a place to rest their heads each night takes on huge worry off their plates.


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Here is Pittsburgh, a joint effort by a children’s oncologist, the McDonald’s Corporation, and the Pittsburgh Steelers helped open our Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Home in 1979.  Even with an expansion, needs grew so much over the years that a new home was opened in 2009, right next to Children’s Hospital in Lawrenceville.  In the new House, which include over 70 individual apartments, every family gets to stay in a suite that includes a kitchen and a living room, while larger common areas include a computer room, playroom, and laundry room.  Now families stay just a short walk down a connecting corridor from their children.  Given the nature of 24/7 medical care, the importance of this feature should not be overlooked.

The Ronald McDonald House here in Pittsburgh goes to great lengths to make itself a home away from home for the visiting families.  meals, snacks, paper products, linens and towels are all provided for the guests.  Check-in and check-out are both determined by the individual needs of the family once RMHC has been made aware of the need by a hospital social worker.

The McDonald’s Connection

Ronald McDonald Houses have been the charity of choice for the McDonald’s Corporation since their inception in 1974.  The support of McDonald’s has allowed the charity to expand to 345 houses worldwide.  The corporation is able to support the charity in a wide variety of ways at both the corporate and franchise levels.  I’ll direct you to the website for the details on that, but it is important to note that the growth and success of the charity couldn’t happen without the additional support of many corporate and individual donors, as well as the medical community.  The House here in Pittsburgh is fortunate to have some great, local corporate partners.

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Out of Town and Local

The primary function of RMHC is to provide a home for families who have traveled at least 40 miles so their children can be treated here in Pittsburgh.  While most of the families have children being treated at Pittsburgh’s Children’s Hospital, all local hospitals with pediatric units are able to refer a family to the Ronald McDonald’s House.

Here in the city, RMHC also operate a Care Mobile that travels to medically underserved pockets of Western PA to provide; wellness care, sick visits, physical exams, immunizations, and dental care.  Staffed by Doctors and Nurses, the 40-foot, state-of-the-art vehicle brings much-needed care to over 1,000 children per year.



There are roles for both individual and group volunteers at the Ronald McDonald House.  Some of the ways to do that include, but are not limited to:

-cooking a meal

-brining snacks and planning activities for a family social hour

-planning crafts or a party for children staying at the House

-putting on a performance

-decorating the doors on the residence floors

-creating “welcome bags” for new guests

Rooftop Garden

I really can’t stress enough just how disoriented a family can feel when they are putting all their energies into making certain their sick child is receiving needed attention and care.  RMHC fills a huge gap that would otherwise leave families in a position where they would have to decide between leaving their child on their own in the hospital or adding costs to the medical bills that are already starting to pile up.

I’ll close in my usual manner, by encouraging you to consider if helping RMHC with either your time or your money might be something worth looking in to.  I’m one of the many thousands served over the last 40+ years who can give a first-hand testimony as to the positive impact this facility can have on a family.