Lauren Allenberg - LA MISS Monthly Co-Facilitator
In 2012, Lauren gave birth to a healthy and happy baby girl, Sophia Esther. After 12 wonderful months together, Sophia was diagnosed with a brain and spinal cord tumor that ultimately took her life just before she reached 16 months of age. Lauren and her husband, Adam, were shattered. Despite living in Dallas, Texas at the time of Sophia’s death, she was buried in Los Angeles, CA, Lauren’s hometown. It was in Los Angeles that Lauren and Adam learned of the MISS Foundation support group for bereaved parents. For the next year, the couple attended the MISS support group meetings whenever they were in town, often to visit Sophia at the cemetery. They found great comfort in having a space to grieve openly and share their story amongst others who could relate to the devastation of losing a child.
In the summer of 2104, Lauren and Adam moved back to LA, the town where they had met 8 years prior. They began attending support group regularly and greatly appreciated the unique support that Lauren needed throughout her subsequent pregnancy with their second child, Eitan.
As a facilitator, Lauren continues to honor the life of Sophia while providing support to others navigating the ever-changing paths of grief and mourning. Lauren is a licensed clinical social worker who has a private therapy practice that specializes in grief counseling for individuals and couples. It is rare to find a supportive professional who understands the unique qualities of the grief experience first-hand. You can find more information here: https://www.laurenallenberg.com/
Eric Kugler - LA MISS Monthly Co-Facilitator
My son Josh passed away when he was 23 years old.
He was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis when he was 18 months old. Both my wife and I had never heard of CF. We were introduced to a support group at Methodist Hospital in Houston Texas. The support and education we received helped us immeasurably.
When Josh was 16, he got very ill, and ultimately he had to have a double lung transplant.
10 months later he rejected the lungs and had to have a single lung transplant. He lived 5 more years before his heart gave out due to complications from the transplant.
If it wasn’t for grief counseling and support groups I don’t know if I would have survived. I feel that helping others through the hardest journey of their life is my way of paying it forward, and to honor my son.
Sari Edber - LA MISS Coordinator
Sari Edber is the proud mother of three children. Her first son, Jacob, was stillborn full term in 2006 after a perfectly healthy pregnancy. While Sari and her husband, Daniel, were learning to navigate the horrific path of being bereaved parents, the MISS Foundation immediately became a lifeline for them through their online resources, monthly support groups, and the lifelong friendships that they made. They found comfort, healing, validation, guidance, and amazing mentors, who would walk this journey alongside them. Sari continued her involvement with MISS when she was one of three stillbirth mothers who sponsored and helped to pass new California legislation for stillborn babies. After almost a year of lobbying, our bill, that allows parents to request a government issued Certificate of Still Birth, was signed into law in October, 2007.
Sari was the lead facilitator of our LA MISS support group for 11 years and continues to support our current volunteers as the chapter coordinator. She serves as the co-chair of the international MISS Parental Advisory Board and has completed the Compassionate Bereavement Care certification program to become a certified peer grief counselor.
Sari's advocacy work has extended into the greater Los Angeles community, as well, by working closely with other grief organizations, leading training sessions with hospitals, and providing bereavement care workshops for health/emotional care professionals with the goals of: sharing her experience, being a peer resource for other bereaved parents, and increasing public awareness, education, and research about child death.
Sari and Daniel's healing revolves around finding ways to keep Jacob’s memory alive and their comfort comes from knowing that Jacob is forever a part of their family, especially in the lives of their two subsequent children.
Danielle Roderick - LA MISS Parent Liason
Danielle Roderick came to MISS after the death of her son, Caleb, in 2017. Group was one of the first places where she could talk about the complexities of her grief and not just be met with empathy, but also understanding. It took Danielle a year to get to group, afraid that it wouldn't be the right fit, or that it would just be too hard, but group has been a mainstay in her journey with her grief. As a volunteer, she wants all families to have as much support as possible. It's so easy to be isolated as a bereaved parent, and volunteering with MISS has been one way to help other families feel less alone.
Agata Labianca - LA MISS Facebook Liason
Agata became a part of the MISS Community about a month after her son, Rio Labianco, was born full term on April 8, 2016. The majority of Rio's life was spent in the NICU where doctors tried to figure out his ailments and how he could best survive. Unfortunately, the prognosis for him was so painful that his parents, Agata and Kevin, chose to remove life support. They were holding him outside in the sunshine when Rio passed away on April 20, 2016.
Agata has attended numerous meetings and is active on the LA MISS Facebook group. She was honored to read at the 2016 December Candlelighting and is thankful for the opportunity to give back to the community. MISS has provided several close friendships and is a place of constant support through the child loss journey. No parent wants to be a part of this group but it is an amazing resource for those of us who need compassion above all else. Agata aims to remember Rio through her service in this space.