Last night was the regular meeting of the pregnancy loss support group that dh & I help facilitate, along with one other woman. Ours is one of several groups run by this organization (mostly in the Greater Toronto Area), which also provides telephone support across the province, as well as training seminars for doctors, nurses, funeral home directors and other professionals who support newly bereaved parents. The organization runs on a shoestring, but does amazing things.
We started attending the group as clients about six weeks after we lost Katie... and we've never left. ; ) We started training as facilitators after the one-year "anniversary" mark had passed, and we're still there. It's become such a big part of our lives. It's a great feeling to be able to give something back to an organization that helped us so much... but it's also nice to feel that there's still a place I can go where I can say my daughter's name & talk about what happened to us and not have people look uncomfortably away -- although our role is now more to listen than to talk about our own experiences. Sometimes, late into a long week of work, it's a pain to haul ourselves out on a Thursday night (dh especially can grumble)... but we almost always come away invigorated & feeling that we did some good by being there.
A support group may not be for everyone -- some clients love it, some come once & we never see them again, and some never show up at all -- but I would highly recommend at least giving it a try. Even in 1998, I was able to find support online, and I was quickly hooked on my daily fix ; ) but there was nothing like meeting up with other bereaved parents in "real life." Even though the circumstances of our losses might be very different, we quickly come to realize that we are all hurting in the same ways. We like to joke about it and say it's the club that nobody wants to join. There is such a bond that is formed through listening to each other's stories, comparing notes, venting about the people who have hurt or annoyed us ; ) and offering each other our support. We have made some really good friends through the group, and the bond remains even with those people we only see now once or twice a year at the memorial events the group sponsors (a Christmastime candlelighting service, a summer picnic & butterfly release, a fall Walk to Remember).
Many, many of our clients have gone on to have successful subsequent pregnancies or adopt. Although many of them also have wrestled with infertility (surprise!), dh & I are among the few we know of who have opted to remain a family of two. Sometimes we talk about whether it's time to throw in the towel. We're getting older, and some of our clients are getting to be VERY young! And I wonder whether they'd rather hear from a facilitator whose loss was more recent, who went on to have subsequent children -- as an example of hope. We mentioned this once to someone, & she pointed out that, "Yes, but they see you there, and it's nine years later and you're still standing, even after everything you've been through. That's a great example for them too." I'd like to think so! We've decided we'll go until the 10-year mark, next fall, and then see how we feel.