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Three Little Birds is seeking to add a comprehensive list of FREE monthly support groups in the Philadelphia Metro (Philadelphia, Delaware, Montgomery and Bucks Counties) and Southern New Jersey (Camden, Gloucester, Burlington and Atlantic Counties) to our monthly newsletter.
If you facilitate a FREE support group and would like to be included, please email us your group information to be added to our website and monthly newsletter. Three Little Birds firmly believes no one should have to pay for support in coping with the loss of a pregnancy and/or baby, therefore the groups and outreach we promote must be free. Exceptions are made for events where there is a material take away, as long as the cost of the event is to cover the raw cost of materials only, i.e., Three Little Birds's Craft N Sip Support Events.
If you are in need of empathetic, one-on-one private support, families are encouraged to reach out to us to be put in contact with one of our Stillbirthday-certified Bereavement Doulas. Support can be provided via telephone, text, email or face to face....whatever is most comfortable for you. Call 856-656-6436 or email email@example.com for more information and support.
Sunday, September 9, 2018 is Grandparent's Day in North America. Most of us remember having a special connection with our grandparents growing up and reminisce of the time spent together. Many people do not realize, however, the grief grandparents experience when they lose a grandchild via stillbirth, neonatal loss and miscarriage.
No one expects to outlive their own children, much less experience the loss of a much-loved, much-wanted grandchild. It is so difficult to raise a family, see your children do the same and see the cycle broken in this out-of-order way. NO one is prepared for the grief that follows. As a grandparent, you have double grief. You grieve your grandchild who has died, as well as for your own child who is now a bereaved parent. You not only feel your own pain and sadness, but also feel helpless and frustrated at not being able to help your bereaved child.
It helps to remember that there is no timetable for grief. Don't expect too much of your child, his or her spouse or yourself. At first, no one believes it. When the reality hits, everyone feels even more devastated. It is important to consider your needs as well as those of your bereaved child.
Acknowledging and working with your grief will help you and indirectly, your grieving child. Don't be surprised if at first you can't reach out to your grieving child. Remember that you are grieving. Be patient with yourself. Eventually, you may be able to talk, listen and help. IF you find that you can't help specifically with the grief you can send cards, tell them you love them, etc. Explain that you wish that you could be of more help but you don't know what to do.
SUGGESTIONS FOR HELPING YOURSELF AND YOUR GRIEVING CHILD
One of the biggest misconceptions of grief, especially in the western world, is that it is something to get over. While in reality, we all know that grief never ends, but it can change over time.
Families who suffer from the loss of a pregnancy and baby are often hit with cliches and religious platitudes such as "everything happens for a reason", "God has a plan", "at least you can get pregnant", and you can "always have another one". While often said with good intentions, those of us in the thick of grief know just how untrue and hurtful these statements can be. Additionally, then can hinder our personal healing because we are left to question our feelings, our experiences and how we help ourselves heal and make sense of how our family and futures have change.
What most people do not understand is that no two pregnancy losses are the same as we lost our own unique and special child, even if others did not have a chance to see or bond with them. This makes healing very isolating and a one step forward-two steps back process. While unfortunate, this is often normal.
So, how do we begin to heal ourselves when everyone around us culturally sees this experience as something to just get over and move forward from?
1. Take as much time as you need. There is no endpoint to grief. Some days may be better than others, but our experiences never leave us.
2. DO NOT APOLOGIZE for your feelings. Even if the ones closest to us do not understand, there is a community of other families walking similar journeys that can and will understand and support you through your grief. Three Little Birds offers a Facebook Support Group to connect local families to support one another.
3. Do something in honor of your loss. As our family and friends surround us, they are often times unsure of how to approach or remember your baby. This could be an annual gathering, a craft or project that can help another family experiencing a similar situation or joining our organization as a volunteer to help #shatterthestigma of pregnancy or infant loss. Some ideas include:
Remember, Three Little Birds Perinatal is here to support your needs. We provide empathetic and knowledgeable support to families in our local area at no cost. You are not alone.
Kristen Samuelson, SBD, Founder & Director