Saturday, January 20, 2007

Support Group Etiquette

Okay, so you decided to take the plunge. You're weary of going it alone ... you need to reach out to others, so you join an infant or pregnancy loss support group.

I've been a bereavement counselor and support group leader for over a year. I've also experienced the death of three infants. Sadly, I know my fair share about grief, but I've learned quite a bit about healing, too. The support group is a great place to start!

Here's what you need to know before you go to your first meeting:

Be yourself. If you feel comfortable sharing your story at the first meeting - do so. If you feel uncomfortable, it's okay to sit quietly. Know that the more you talk about your loss, the more free (from grief) you will become. Sometimes it takes a few meetings before you feel comfortable opening up.

It's okay to cry. Crying is therapeutic both physically and emotionally. Initially, I felt embarrased about crying in public. I was never one who showed that type of emotion in front of strangers ... but when I allowed the tears to flow that first time, my discomfort gave way to relief. I could finally release the tension that had been buried for so long.

Express yourself. When you are ready to talk about those hidden feelings and experiences, let it all hang out! That is what the group is there for. For example, one person confided that she felt the urge to dig up her baby's casket. To some that may seem a foreign concept, but others related to her experience.

Don't judge. In a group setting, you will encounter people with differences in the way they dress, speak, believe and so forth. Just know that we're all united by tragedy -- we've all lost a child we love. Just as you will be embraced and allowed to express yourself, extend the same graciousness to others.

Don't gossip. Meetings should remain an intimate place where it is safe to open up. It's a place to get and receive feedback. Never betray that trust by talking about what so-and-so said simply for the sake of gossiping.

Give back. When you've reached a point where you've "received" from others ... don't forget to give back. Give feedback, advice and above all love, support and encouragement to other members (only when you are ready). We need each other.

Give the group a chance. Try to attend at least three meetings before you decide a support group isn't the place for you. The first meeting may (or may not) feel awkward, the second gets better and by the third, you would have made a friend or two and the tears won't fall so easily anymore. After six or more meetings, you will see a tremendous difference in how you feel.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Is Motherhood Over Rated?

I'm guessing this is one of those questions you can't answer from the position of childlessness. I just see so many parents who are annoyed by ... too busy for ... abusive to ... neglectful of ... their children.

I know only a couple of people who seem genuinely happy and blessed by their young children and most others seem to find that happiness once their kids are adults. BUT still ... most moms want more babies (despite their seeming misery).

As a childless mother, I want a baby more than anything else I can think of right now ... I just hope it isn't some hormone problem or empty arms syndrome or something.

So, callling all parents out there ... what are we (childless parents) getting ourselves into? Dish the good, bad and ugly.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

I'm Not Your Superwoman

When I was actively grieving, a lot of people liked to describe me as "strong." They didn't realize that I was simply surviving. But what do you do when everyone thinks you're handling your loss well, while inside you're a sniveling mess?

I spent some time mulling this over and realized two things: First it is fruitless to try to convince someone that you're not "strong." They feel if they were in your situation they'd be curled in a corner somewhere. The truth is, if you actually reacted the way they think they would, they probably wouldn't come around!

Second, regardless of how much you want to help someone understand your weakness and emptiness, they could never completely understand.

The solution? Build a network of people who can come very close to understanding your feelings. There are numerous groups on the Internet, but I strongly urge you to find a local parent's grief support group. Try it for three sessions and see if it doesn't help.

Don't get me wrong, while in the throes of grief it isn't a wise decision to cut yourself off from friends and family. After all, they make up a huge part of who we are and can truly help us in more ways than we know.

BUT. There comes a point when you have to understand that as much as friends and family love us, they aren't very likely to understand our experience. They may share our pain for a short time, but then comes a point when they need to see you stop hurting. We can't hold this against them.

It is agony for loved ones to see us in a perpetual state of pain, so they begin to rush us forward. This is where the support group comes in handy.

Support Group Benefits:
  • They won't get tired of your stories
  • There will be others there who've been wearing these shoes longer, and have wisdom that will help your healing
  • You will have the opportunity to help someone else through their grief. Right now you may not feel able (or willing) and that's okay, but it won't be long before a nugget of wisdom tumbles from your lips that can change someone's life. It may even be your own.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Weekly Posts

I think I'll begin posting only once or twice a week now that work has picked up quite a bit. You can always check in on me at

I'd love to hear from you!


Finding Faith

I don't believe that acquiring faith is something that comes naturally or easily for most people. It hasn't for me anyway.

For me, part of it is a choice the other part is a gift from God. On most days I choose to believe in God's ability to make my life better than it was before our babies died. I choose to believe that He will bless us with a healthy child regardless of what has happened in the past. To fuel my faith I do several things:

Faith Fuelers:

  • I ask God to give me faith ... I pray that He will help me believe in his ability to take my hurt away and to give me a happy, healthy baby ending.
  • I try very hard to eliminate negative words from my vocabulary. I won't allow myself to get caught in a cycle of talking about what went wrong last time, the time before and the time before then. When I do that, it makes me feel anxious and fearful which cancels what little faith I had before I began the vicious cycle.
  • I read my Bible. I especially like to spend time reading about Jesus' ministry in Matt, Mark, Luke and John. Hey, if miracles happened for them, why wouldn't it happen for me? After all, God is the same now as He was then. It's also important to read the Word because it says ... faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.
  • I take little spiritual risks everyday. Sometimes I'll attempt something that I know I couldn't accomplish in my own power ... I ask for God's help ... and I get it. Every accomplishment increases my faith in God's abilities to work in my life. A good example of this is writing Stolen Angels and doing all the marketing and networking necessary to promote the book. Impossible on my own ... but I asked God for help and He really showed up and showed out!!
  • I listen to other people's testimonies about how God has blessed them. I also reflect on the many ways He continues to bless me. It's been soooo easy to forget that I had a past or a future before my babies died.

Make no mistake, getting and keeping your faith is a struggle, but it's a habit that must be established before you find yourself weighed down by the cares of this world. For those who read this blog regularly ... our "cares" are usually centered around getting and staying pregnant.

Try a few of these faith fuelers and see if it doesn't make a difference.