Updated: Aug 26, 2020
My most treasured support circle these last few weeks has been the parents we've met through our support group at the Center for Hope. The group is made up of 9 sets of parents that have all recently lost a child. Most of the children that have passed away were under the age of 4, then there is one 14 year old girl, and two 20 year old boys. Everyone's situation is unique - ranging from illness, to accident, to murder, to Rosie's SUDC - but our emotions and experiences are still so shared. It really makes you feel not alone to know that there are others out there (unfortunately) who feel the same way that you do and who understand the pain. Over these last few weeks, these strangers have become friends. I find myself thinking and praying for them often on the days in between sessions. I imagine what our children are doing together in heaven. I wonder how they are coping with an upcoming birthday or anniversary or event.
We openly talk about our children without worrying about making someone feel uncomfortable. We share our biggest fears, our guilt, our anger, and our pain. We cry - both at our own experiences, but also at each others. We acknowledge the best and the worst experiences we've had since our child passed away. We cherish the moments of strength and glimmers of joy, but also talk about the debilitating pain that can hit us unexpectedly at any moment. We've shared many tears, but we've also shared some laughs. To feel like we can be ourselves together unapologetically has been such a blessing. I wish that none of us ever had to meet each other or that we were able to meet under entirely different circumstances. But, I could not be more grateful for the connection that we have found with them.
After our first group, Charlie and I were skeptical. It was intense hearing everyone's story and recognizing how much pain and suffering exists in this life - something we both had fortunately been pretty sheltered from before this experience. But with each passing week and each topic of discussion, we have realized how much this group and these people are helping us (and I hope in some ways we've been able to help them too).
Outside of the support group, our St. Peter's church community has also been incredible. From the cards, the flowers, the prayers, and the meals - they have stepped up in so many ways to let us feel their love and support. They may not understand exactly what we're going through, but they want to help in any way that they can. Being supported by a community of prayer and love has provided some much needed strength and eased the burden.
We are so grateful to have the support that we do and I'm not sure how we'd be standing today without it. I hope our journey can someday be an inspiration and helpful to another set of grieving parents that need it.