Support Groups

One of the first things I did after the birth and death of Corva, was seek out support. I wanted to know–no I needed to know–that there were others surviving this nightmare. The hospital had given me contact information for a local support group, but I actually knew of the group’s existence prior to my loss. As a WIC nutritionist,  I referred clients to the group, not frequently, but often enough considering the 1 in 4 statistic.  I didn’t really know what the group did though.

The support group in my area specific to baby loss welcomes bereaved parents who have lost a baby at any gestational age, and after birth up until age one.  They meet monthly. The first meeting post loss arrived ten days after Corva’s delivery. I went, though it was the same day that earlier, in my grief stricken state, I left my purse in a friend’s car and it was stolen (the purse, not the car). So it had been an exhausting day, complete with a panic attack and a police report. There was one person at the group that night–Elisha–and I found immediate comfort from her. She sat with me for over an hour and for that I am forever grateful.

After that initial meeting, I attended four more meetings. I also went with several other moms to get coffee, attended a butterfly release and a social dinner out.  In October I attended a remembrance walk for infant loss awareness month.

Then I started to feel angry and frustrated.

First there was the prayer. Now, I’m not a stranger to prayer; after all I pray everyday, to a God  I ambiguously believe in, that I will die before my eldest daughter. At this walk in October, a board member of the support group, we’ll call her Jenny, said some touching words then invited her husband to say a prayer before the walk. This fueled so much anger within me.

Then I started reflecting on the stories. I’m not saying that my loss is worse or greater or more painful than anyone else’s. I only say the following because I cannot relate to these losses. Each month at support group, we went around the circle, saying our name and “as much of your story as you wish to share.” I got so tired of hearing those stories. (All names have been changed). There was Ashley, one of the leaders, who portrays her loss as further along than it actually was. Jenny, who lost her daughter with congenital defects at 19 weeks. Shaina, who delivered prematurely due to complications of preeclampsia at 23 weeks but whose son lived for 10 days. Tara who experienced an ectopic pregnancy in the first trimester. And Elisha who lost her beautiful twins at 20 weeks due to an infection.

And then there is me. Me, who carried my beautiful wanted baby for 40 weeks. Me, who had no complications during that time. Me, whose baby was healthy and growing (until she wasn’t). Me, whose baby lived only inside me, who did not get any sort of acknowledgment of life.

Elisha was the mother who was present at my first meeting. She was the one who was there for me, the one I connected with by default. On that unusually hot day in May, she was the one who watched my tears fall, who listened without judgement. She was the one who demonstrated survival.

Elisha’s story is complex–and it’s not mine to share. And, although, I am thrilled that she is carrying a successful pregnancy, it hurts to no end that she is due May 5, 2018–almost exactly one year (May 8, 2017) after my due date for Corva. I just can’t bring myself to watch her growing belly each month at a support group for infant loss.

So I stopped going.

Tell me about your in-person support groups.

6 thoughts on “Support Groups”

  1. I have never gone to a support group meeting. Neither my husband nor myself felt like it was something we wanted to do. But. like you, I really needed to hear the stories of other parents. So I read-a lot. The closer the similarity to my own situation (sudden loss of a young adult in a car crash), the more helpful the books were to me. We want to know that someone else has experienced this horrible thing called Death of a Child and that it was not just something we were singled out for. So I understand not being able to relate to the situations that have plunged people into grief that seems excessive under their circumstances. But, that just it- I probably know less than half of their whole situation and I have no idea what else plays into the pain of this person. Our first and last pregnancies ended in early miscarriage. Our oldest son was ripped from our lives in an instant. All of that is very hard. But there is so much more to it than that. Our lives are interwoven with so many other lives. Every loss is woven into a fabric that has many, many threads, most of which nobody else sees. I never went to a support group because I did not believe there was anything they could do for me. My son would still be dead. There are a few FB groups for bereaved parents that I follow and share in-this was especially helpful to me. And I write. And I pray. And I comment on other people’s blogs-because, unfortunately, they know what I am talking about. I am sorry you know, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We met great friends at our support group. Is it possible to suggest a branch off support group for those who are pregnant or have had children since their loss? My local group is put on by our chapter of the Share organization. They have one for infant loss and a second group later in the month called PALs (pregnancy/parenting after loss). I couldn’t imagine hearing stories of rainbow pregnancies after my loss either.


  3. I’ve been to two different support groups. The first one I went to is held at a church near my house. My first time three of us were there for the first time, each having suffered full term stillbirths of different causes (unexplained, infection, abruption). We went around the circle sharing our stories and by the time we were at the last one I was an atheist (not everyone can say they became an atheist in a church). Everyone was either a full term stillbirth or neonatal death. Once a lady came in because she had four miscarriages, one at 12 weeks, and she’s 39 and scared she will never have a living child. I can’t say that I’m worse off then her; we embraced her and supported her just like us with later losses.

    I then sought out another support group because it felt weird to mentally curse God inside a church. This group also only mostly has attendees with later stillbirths and neonatal deaths. There are a couple with babies born at 23/24 weeks who held their babies as they died. That seems pretty shitty too. That group has some really sad stories. One had a full term stillbirth followed by a death of their 4.5 month old. One lost a baby to anencephaly and another baby to a heart defect. One got pregnant later in life for her first only to have a stillbirth and never got pregnant again.

    I’m thinking that when my life calms down I might try hosting a pregnancy after loss group. I stopped going once I was visibly pregnant again because I knew the very sight of me would be triggering to some.


  4. I felt the exact same way. The first sessions I felt home. With people that got it. But similarly, we’d go around the room and talk about our losses and while everyone’s story is sad, it was hard to relate to someone that had a 11 week miscarriage. So I too, stopped going, but I did form enough connections with stillbirth mamas and we still get together every month or so for dinner. For me, I needed someone that went through exactly what I went through (full term, healthy pregnancy, hold their child, leave the hospital empty handed, bury/cremate their baby). I’m sorry she has such a similar timing to sweet corva (btw, my daughters name is Cora 💜) that would be so difficult and you have to do what’s best for you. Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve stopped going to the support groups. I couldn’t handle the pregnant women who think it’s ok to show up with a room full of others who have lost a child and cannot have more than the one who passed. It sounds bitter and harsh knowing they need support too, but if you have gone thru a loss then you know group therapy is not where you need to be at 7 months pregnant. Private counseling is where they should be instead of unknowingly making everyone else hurt even more. I think I mostly got tired of hearing about death. My loss has hardened me. I think group therapy helps to the point where you hit the angry stage and you’re on your own, sadly.

    Liked by 1 person

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