Jan 31, 2023

Medtronic employee’s journey with grief brings hope

Employee-led group provides support in Australia

Content warning: This story contains pregnancy, infant, and child loss.

Lauren Gaw is not defined by the worst day of her life, but she carries it daily — and, with it, hope to Medtronic employees across Australia.

lauren holding a baby

Her daughter, Hope Aloma, died from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in 2020. Within a year, the 11-year Medtronic employee formed a regional employee-led and funded group for others affected by pregnancy, infant, and child loss. It is aptly named Project Hope.

“After losing Hope, I remember having this incredible fear that was all-consuming: That my daughter would be forgotten and that no one would remember her name,” she said. “Project Hope is my way of keeping my daughter’s memory alive.”

More than stories

Gaw started Project Hope with a simple premise: “I just wanted to share my story and encourage others to do the same,” she said.

At the time, Medtronic had rolled out a plan for employees to set inclusion, diversity, and equity (ID&E) goals.

“I thought, ‘there’s nothing more inclusive than wrapping our arms around employees going through this type of loss,’” she said. “It was important for me to give people a voice and let them share their grief and stories.”

What started as a place for people to share their stories has grown into a full-blown operation that not only provides emotional support, but education and resources. It also points employees to existing benefits at Medtronic.

An unbearable loss and a way forward

Hope Aloma was born after a four-and-a-half-year infertility journey marked by pregnancy loss and grief.

The thought of a baby, Gaw said, kept her going. And the grief from that loss was nearly unbearable for Gaw and her husband.

After two weeks of intensive mental health care, the couple took a five-week journey into Australia’s outback. They made a discovery: connecting with people and sharing their story brought a measure of healing.

But soon it was back to real life. Gaw returned to work two-and-a-half months after Hope’s death.

“We had to make a decision,” she said. “Do we just die, or do we try to get up and move forward?”

Their decision has had a ripple effect for the nearly 20 members benefiting from the group.

Medtronic is leading the way in offering this kind of support, Gaw said. Afterall, helping people live fuller lives is part of the Mission.

“We should be helping our employees live a fulfilled life, too,” she said.