Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Starting your own grief support group

I would encourage anyone, who needs the help of a support group to deal with the death of a child, to start their own if there is none in the area in which you live. The group does not need to be part of a national group of bereaved parents. It can serve any purpose you need in your own area of the country.

In order to get started, the local newspaper should be contacted to see if they will do a story in the paper about your first and subsequent meetings. Flyers can be placed in hospitals, funeral homes and religious institutions. Local hospice groups in each state can help. Contact one of the national bereavement organziations for any information or encouragement to get started. See what happens and who you meet. It can be the beginning of a new life that has new goals and new priorities in it. (See previous blogs that have the national organization information in them.)

Through the encouragement of another bereaved parent, I brought 10 bereaved parents together in my community, both mothers and fathers, who have specifically lost their only child or all their children. Hopefully, through these parents we will get others. We now have a place to talk about our children and share fond memories, laugh, enjoy a cup of coffee and discuss coping techniques. We are all in differnt stages of the grief journey, from a few months to over 15 years. Our children were all different ages when they died. Causes of deaths range from car accidents and illnesses to drug overdoses and suicides among others. We feel comfortable sharing and enjoy each other's company.

The group you start doesn't have to be for only childless parents. You can combine forces for a meeting and then break up into smaller groups within the meeting, such as: childless and those with surviving children. Or you can have groups by the number of years the child is gone: 1-5 years, 6-10 years, and over 10 years. There are many ways of running these groups, and I encourage you to try to put one together.

Everyone going through the grief process should know that it eventually becomes bearable. You don't heal from grief. It is with you your entire life. But you can live with it; it becomes a softer grief. You will eventually find something useful and suitable to do with your life and in doing so will honor your children's life. Many people in my book "I Have No Intention of Saying Good-bye" talk about what they have done to remember their child or children. It is comforting for them to tell their story; it is heartwarming for me to write about them. They are brave parents. They have accomplished a lot since their child died and they have made a difference. I hope that everyone going through this unbearable loss will one day make a difference. That is when you will know you are on the other side of grief. And these support groups can start you in that direction.


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