A letter, by Marcia McGinnis, supporting attendance to our groups
How to find support for a midterm loss/placental previa 3/5/03
"My concern about coming to a local group...." by Janna (7/1/02)
"Meeting Locations..." by Kim (4/1/04)
A letter, by Marcia McGinnis, supporting attendance to our groups:
Should I or shouldn't I attend a group? Confusion is part of the grief process.
Every month, as the time for our Women’s group draws near, I begin to think about those who have either visited our group or shared with us “online” or both. As time passes, I know that grieving parents have conflicting feelings. They look at the calendar and see that it has been a certain length of time since their loss, and they wish to be “healed” because it hurts so much. Often they want that so much that they deny their true feelings of pain. In that denial, they may not seek out the very support that might help them to continue to heal.
Group time comes and they might be “feeling good” or “feeling poorly.” They may question attending for fear that by discussing their situation they might suffer more, but they are not really sure. If they have missed a few meetings, it may seem awkward to visit again. Or they just don’t seem to have the energy to come. How confusing!
Every group meeting is slightly different,
... depending on who attends and what the topic of the evening is, but the goal of each meeting is to support a parent so s/he can work through the confusion surrounding grief. By definition the period of grieving causes confusion and a drain on our energy levels.
By making friends, you are no longer alone on your journey...
What most parents who join us for several meetings realize, is that over a period of time they begin to understand that they are not alone in their confusion and pain and that by joining us they learn how to work through these reactions and feelings. It is a relief and comfort to talk to others who really understand because they have been right there and can give support for surviving these difficult times. By coming to several meetings they make friends who they can call and relate to. There begins to be a level of comfort and outreach to each other that makes this difficult journey a little easier.
As you heal, your outreach helps others...
Also, in the continuation that our parent-lead group works towards: as an individual heals and reaches a degree of "acceptance" they can be of great help to others who are closer to their loss. They now have something to give back to the group. They most likely gained support and insight from others who were further down the road than they were when they attended their first few meetings. They can be that kind of help to others. This very outreach is what makes our group so special and unique.
Having group meetings is a blessing...
I am writing this to let you know that we do care. I do understand your confusion—I have lived it myself. I have many emails from people who wish that their area had a local support group because they really would like to make friends with others who would understand. I am glad that SHARE Atlanta can offer “live” groups to those in the Atlanta area.
We are here when you need us...
Whether you join us or not, I do think of each of you, and hope that you know that we are here if you need us. You are important to us, that is the reason we keep SHARE Atlanta alive. While others don’t totally comprehend your efforts to survive the loss of your baby, we do understand every moment of your walk.
Last Friday I misscarried at 20wks. Due to having complete placenta previa, I was unable to deliver my baby - they felt the risk to my life was too great. So, they did a D&E instead, which meant the remains were directly sent to pathology.
I have found numerous resources on how to cope with 1st trimester miscarriages and 2nd & 3rd trimester stillbirths, but nothing that addresses situations like mine. Can you recommend any links or resources?
I am sorry about your loss at twenty weeks. There is information about placenta previa under our Medical Links under High Risk - placental issues and concerns. One such link is: http://www.babycenter.com/refcap/830.html
When we talk about our losses we think first about how far along we were and then about the reason for our loss and about the grieving process. If you were to share your story for our site we would include it under Sharing Stories, Our Experience/ Midterm Loss/Known Cause. If you were to join us in our groups you would find others, as online, who have had Midterm losses for various reasons.
After a loss, many of us want to learn all we can about the reason for our loss. That is why we include Medical links on our website. We encourage people to educate themselves all that can about the cause (if they know what it is), and discuss it with their doctor (or a doctor who they find will address their EVERY concern).
We also encourage parents to "give themselves permission to grieve" no matter how far along in their pregnancy. Every loss is traumatic and the loss of a child-to-be. Coping and healing after a loss is about dealing with the loss of your baby and not necessarily focused on the kind of loss you experienced.
I see that you are located in the Atlanta area. (I have had parents come to my Women's group from Buford.) If you haven't already, call our number, and we will send you a Parent's Packet from our local group. Enclosed in that are some brochures about grief and our groups (where they meet and when), a suggested reading list, and our newsletter. You will receive a years subscription to our newsletter, at no cost to you. Our angel garden with memorial bricks to remember your baby is in Sandy Springs at Arlington Memorial Park. Many parents find it very healing to visit the garden. There is a memorial pathway for parents to include their special baby's name or loving thoughts about their baby in either a memorial brick for the pathway or in a keepsake brick (for your home). You can see pictures of it on our site (under Angel of Hope) and in our packet.
The website is full of information about coping, three sections focus on this: "The First 24 Hours and Later," "Coping Ideas," and "Allowing Grief to Happen to Heal." They are based on my own experience with quotes from entries made on the site to validate this process called grief and the process of coping to heal.
Note from Marcia Feb. 6, 2004: Janna was a very important link in an in-service that SHARE Atlanta held on Feb. 5th at Rockdale County Hospital. She spoke from the perspective of a "caregiver" and as a parent. Her contribution was very meaningful.
Thank you for the reminder email. I did not realize the meeting was tonight until I received your message today. Perhaps I can plan to come to next month's meeting.
I do have kind of a strange question, but one of the biggest things holding me back from attending a group is the fear of hearing other horror stories of loss. One thing that keeps me going is the hope of one day having another baby, and although it helps to know I'm not alone in my grief, it's also scary to hear about how many times it has happened to other people and the many things that can go wrong. It's easier to believe that this was a one-time tragic event. Do other parents ever mention this concern or am I being unreasonable? Thank you for your help. JannaJanna
"The story of Avery" by Janna (6/11/02)Dear Janna,
Many paths for healing...
I have wanted to spend a moment and answer this very important question. SHARE Atlanta's mission is to help bereaved parents to heal and to work towards "what will be" in their lives. We attempt to do this through many different mediums: our site, our newsletter, written materials, memorial gatherings and candle lightings, our angel garden with memorial bricks, and groups. We invite parents and close friends or relatives to participate in these as the parent wishes.
We understand that parents’ needs vary as they move "through" the grieving process and what works one day may not the next OR what works for one parent may not work for another. That is why we keep so many options open. Options, after any tragic loss, are important. All too often, a parent will feel as though there are NO options. Choices are part of what helps us move through the many transitions and changes in order to heal.
Groups provide a common ground for working through the grieving process..
Having said this, we are pleased that we have our local groups. Many parents who visit our site wish that they HAD a local group to attend. A group does more than give a place to know you aren't alone, it provides a common ground for working through the many parts of the grieving process in order to heal.
Loss of innocence...death does happen at birth...
Your concern has been expressed in our groups. It is a valid concern. After a loss, our innocence has already been attacked: we now know that death can come with birth. A quick review of the site points this out - especially in the Sharing Stories section. A natural part of grief is denial. It is hard for us to accept any of what has happened to us, and we wish to believe that this horrible experience is not really a part of the larger world. That ours is a once in a lifetime happening. Coming to a group clearly validates that it does happen to others. We do learn about other kinds of losses. It is real.
Close bonds as we work through grief...
I will speak to my Women's group because I facilitate it. I have written 10 booklets to help focus the group. The booklet’s emphasis is on the grieving process with healing being the desired outcome to attending the group. We do not "tell" every story during a meeting. Pieces of stories come out as we explore the topic of the evening. The topics, found in our Parent Packet, are aimed at learning about the grieving process, coping skills, and the discussions are centered on how you and the others in the group can move through this time and what you might expect.
Usually, the women in the group develop close bonds and support one another through difficult times. Our babies have names or identities, our experiences are often shared after the meeting as mothers want to know more about each others child. Healing also comes because we can share our story and baby in a safe haven with mothers who really want to hear.
While it is hard to hear about other losses, we learn about the strengths of each other. Several times someone else's story has helped another person during a subsequent pregnancy and sharing ideas for pregnancies can also help during a subsequent pregnancy.
Permission to grieve...to heal..
Most "group" moms have agreed that though they have learned about other kinds of losses, the support in being given "permission to grieve to heal" tied with being able to express and discuss "real" feelings and reactions with others who truly understand - makes having local groups worthwhile.
In the 18 years of groups, most all of our parents go on to have another baby (mostly biological but we have had many adopt, too), and they have found additional support in our Subsequent Pregnancy Group. SHARE Atlanta's role is to help you come to the point where making the choice to "move on" is doable. Healing is our number one goal.
Healing takes different paths for each member
Some mothers come to the group once - others every month for a year and many fall in between. (Many return on anniversaries to remember and to support newly bereaved moms.) Most find others in the group who they can share. Sharing is very important for these mothers—especially when the rest of the world is ready for you to be past it. I also have had local members find supportive friends via the website.
It is each parents decision as to what they wish to do. I totally honor that. It is important for you to feel as comfortable as you can wherever you choose to be or whatever you wish to do. That is why we have several options.
Good questions deserve a thought out response. I have said this many times, just not written it (recently, anyways).
Order our "Parent Packet" to learn how our members feel about SHARE Atlanta...
I am glad you have found our site and I hope our Parents Packet has helped you. My thoughts and prayers are with you as you move through this path. Take care, Marcia
Note from Marcia July 2003: Janna did come to the group. She shared her story and heard others. She told me that it helped a lot and she very much appreciated what the group offered. She has since had a son.
Do you have a meeting that takes place closer to Gwinnett? We live almost in Dacula and the meetings in McDonough and Acworth are too far away from us on a school night. We really want to attend but can't make those particular locations.Kim
Marcia's thoughts: We used to have a meeting in Duluth, but due to various reasons, it is now closed. The closest meeting is my woman's group meeting here in Dunwoody. I have had women from all around the Atlanta area attend. Women have driven from McDonough, Athens, and Rome to come.
I wish that we could keep meetings open in every location, but the truth is that people want to meet with other people and any one area at a given time often does not support an actual group. (Through the years, we have had groups in almost every sector of Atlanta.)
Also, unfortunately, with this type of loss and with societies influence, some parents feel that they must remain private, and they are hesitant to join us even when the group meets in their neighborhood. With our in-services and pr, SHARE Atlanta is working hard to defuse that concept, but it is still there. That is why we offer the website's email exchange (a more private medium), and I am about to reopen our bulletin board and chat room (so look for that if you think you would like to participate). We try to offer many kinds of healing activities to help a parent.
What we have found is that some parents will drive fairly large distances
for the supportive sharing that goes on in our groups. When parents join from all areas of Atlanta, the group is big enough for parents to have others who have had very similar experiences. If a parent attends several times, s/he often makes a friend from THEIR area or a friend that they can meet at the group, plan phone chats with, exchange e-mail with, or meet
for sharing during a lunch date. (All things that I know our parents have done.
I wish that we could have a group in every area of Atlanta and have enough people (we are supportive of 2- 3 or 4 at a given group) attend over a period of time to make it work. (This has happened if pr is strong and the local hospital gets behind us.) We also areonsiderate of our facilitators (all healed bereaved parents). Many have led groups (during the last 20 years) for anywheres from two to five years at time! I think that says a lot for our volunteers! But, as they move on, we may or may not have a parent, in that area, that wants to lead a group. This same issue is true for professionally run groups, too. So, where a group "used to be" there might not be one now.
Many of those who have e-mailed me from other states and cities have NO actual group meeting in that state or area so I have to console myself that we do offer groups.
I have seen, though, that often joining us for just a few meetings (even from afar) starts the healing. Also, parents meet friends to bond with, and/or a parent finds what part of our program that s/he wishes to participate in.
In a perfect world, we would have a group in every county.
Having shared this with you, know that you are invited to any of our groups. I would love for you to come to the woman's group here at my home. I know that there is not a men/women's SHARE Atlanta group at this moment in this immediate area.
There is a men/women's group at N'side Hospital. I am not sure what their dates are now. It is not a SHARE group and their format is different. It is lead by a nurse from the hospital. There is a link to N'sides Pregnancy and Newborn Loss page and phone number under Links/Groups (see my Main Drop Down box). For those couples in this area who wish to attend as a couple, they can attend N'side's couple group. The mom can (if she wishes) join us at our women's group, and they have!
Parents can gain from both groups!
I hope that in some way we can support you...if you have any other questions, please ask.
Sorry for the long e-mail to answer a short but important question. I want you to know that we wish for more groups, too, and what the situation is. We keep trying to be there for other parents because we do understand since we each have been where you are...
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