How Marcia's "Walk" with SHARE Atlanta Began...
Catherine, Elizabeth, Seth
AMEND and Joan Dewar
When I loss my son, Seth, it was the third loss out of four pregnancies that we had experienced. We were devastated beyond emotions and words. I felt that having a family was one of the most difficult processes for us - in a world where everyone was having babies all around me.
One of my nurses, Amy, had given me a tiny sheet of paper with a telephone number on it and told me to call Joan Dewar if I needed support.
Well, in my mind, I had survived two miscarriages, was not a groupie as such, and I just knew I would never call any number. But, I put it with Seth's belongings which was a very good thing.
Several months later, after many bad days (especially at the holidays), I had a family portrait made. When I went to get these back in January, I was alarmed at the woman who was starring back at me from the picture. Who was it? I didn't look like myself...at all.
I panicked and cried. Was I ever going to survive this pain? What was I going to do. I knew that I had not healed... I didn't even know how to heal. Even though I seemed to be functioning (whatever that meant), I knew that my life was in constant turmoil, and that I was going nowhere fast.
I thought about the slip of paper and quickly found it. It was a tiny piece of paper and the phone number seemed to jump out at me. Then I thought about it...how could anyone else understand my sorrow? How could I just call this Joan person up and weep on the phone to her about my dead baby? I shook. I cried.
I finally decided that I had to try...I remembered the vacant look in the face of the person in the family portrait. I thought about how I just seemed to be "stagnant" in the pain I felt about our loss. I thought about my husband and my son...neither of who could help me through this unknown territory.
I went into the laundry room where the phone was, sat on the dryer and dialed the number of "Joan" and prayed and shook. I almost hoped she wouldn't answer, but I feared she wouldn't answer as well. I didn't know if I could ever get up the nerve to call her again.
She answered. She listened. She sounded "normal" and she had experienced a loss of a baby girl. We shared stories and feelings. We talked a long time. I felt such relief.
The shocking thing about all of this was that I told her that I would attend the Amend group that she led. Me, the "none groupie" was going to a group??!!! Ummm....
When I arrived, by myself, Leon stayed home with Joel our 3 year old, I almost didn't go in. I sat in the parking lot assessing all of the reasons for not going in. But, it didn't work...I knew with certainty that I had meant my match. I had to go in. I had to find a way to help myself feel better and ease the stress in my family.
Joan facilitated the group of about ten people, and we became supportive friends very quickly. We talked on the phone to each other and supported each other through the next year.
Some brief thoughts about AMEND. The AMEND Grief Support Group, started by bereaved mom, Joan Dewar, and Ina Moore, in 1981 - was the forerunner for the SHARE Atlanta group. AMEND, which met at the Link Counseling Center in Sandy Springs, had one monthly group meeting, several phone people, and no other programs or activities. Actually, many of the newer parents contributed to the phone lines while still healing during the first year or so after their loss.
Atlanta's AMEND provided caring outreach from the volunteers and members that made the group viable. Those who attended the group were pulled together in a common bond of grief and love for their baby that died and the need to heal.
I remember knowing that I must be healing when one of the members commented that I "looked more relaxed and happier." This comment came after about 8 months of attending the group, sharing with the other parents, and helping with the phone calls and "newer" bereaved parents.
I thank Joan and the other parents for being there for me and for each other. We learned together and became supportive of our various ways of healing.
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