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After loss, love: Fargo women create nonprofit to help mothers

Kayla Sorum (left) and Jennifer Burgard are the two women behind Hopeful Heart Project, an organization that seeks to provide support to parents who have lost children. Emily Koska Photography / Special to The Forum

FARGO — Kayla Sorum and Jennifer Burgard barely knew each other when they met for coffee in the fall of 2017. Before their coffee had time to cool, the pair formed an instant connection and a desire to make some good come from the most painful chapter of their lives.

Earlier that year, both women were in the midst of healthy pregnancies when they suffered complete placental abruptions, a rare pregnancy complication that proved devastating to their babies, Hope and Henry.

The nonprofit organization the two created out of the desire to help other mothers like them will host its first Love & Light concert and event Saturday, Oct. 13, featuring music by Lacey Guck, Jon Walters and Jake Ingamar.

Helping others

Sorum says Hope's heart had already stopped beating when she delivered her the day after Valentine's Day, just one day before she was to be induced.

"My life was irrevocably changed the day I left the hospital without my baby in my arms — my life will truly never be the same," Sorum says. "Hope is an irreplaceable part of our families, and she will forever be the biggest part of me."

Burgard was just two days away from being induced in April 2017 when she sensed something was wrong and was rushed to the hospital. When she awoke from surgery, her husband told her they wouldn't get to take Henry home.

"Our family spent that day getting to know our son, and giving him a lifetime of love in only one day. Memorizing his face, his scent and his sounds was all we could do until he took his last breaths in our arms that same evening," Burgard says.

In addition to sharing stories about their babies and their losses, both Sorum and Burgard, who were connected through a mutual friend, realized they also shared frustration over a lack of resources and specific support in the community.

"Quickly we realized we both had a desire to somehow make a difference in the loss community for other moms that would also experience this. There had to be something more that could be done, and we knew we wanted to honor our children in the process," Sorum says.

The Hopeful Heart Project, in honor of Hope and Henry, was created out of that desire.

"The work we do at Hopeful Heart Project focuses on providing care packages and resources for loss families, as well as local community events supporting hope and healing," says Burgard.

Those care packages, called Hope Gifts, include items the women found helpful during their grieving process that encouraged self-care, reflection and remembrance of the children they lost. Events include a monthly gentle yoga class focusing on healthy meditation, hand-lettering and floral arrangement classes.

"These events are meant to provide a supportive environment for loss parents to take steps back into the community again surrounded by others who truly understand the grief they are experiencing," Sorum says.

Hopeful Heart Project is hosting its first Love & Light in honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day on Saturday. The event will include a concert and presentation for parents, friends and others in the community who want to support the cause.

Sorum and Burgard say throughout their grief, family and friends were caring and thoughtful, but they hope Hopeful Heart Project can be another shoulder to cry on and arms to lift you up.

"Some of the best support comes from others getting in touch to tell you they have been there and they were surviving," Burgard says. "They had survived this unimaginable loss, and you could too."

If you go

What: Hopeful Heart Project's Love & Light

When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13

Where: Abovo Events Center, 218 Broadway N., Fargo

Info: $15 for this 21+ event;

Tracy Briggs

Tracy Briggs is a former TV anchor/radio host currently working as a features writer and video host for Forum Communications.

(701) 451-5632