When is the right time to attend a pregnancy loss support group?
- Right after your loss. A lot of people feel like that is too soon, but connecting with other parents soon after your loss can help you know what to expect and how normal your crazy emotions are.
- When a friend invites you. It can be scary to go to a support group alone. If you have a friend sensitive enough to offer to accompany you to a support group, take her up on it.
- When your spouse wants to go. A support group may mean nothing to you, but to your partner, it means the world. Go, and offer your support.
- When you start to feel forgotten. Many parents feel no need for a support group in the days immediately following a loss because they are surrounded by concerned family and friends. But after the funeral, when everyone else's life gets back to normal, it can be especially helpful.
- At your first ______ (Mother's Day, Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthday, anniversary, etc.). The first year is just hard, and finding out that you are not alone in those hard days is a comfort.
- When you want to try to conceive again. This brings with it a whole different slew of emotions - most notably the mingling of grief and hope, the fear of moving forward and leaving your baby behind.
- If you have another loss. Although most women go on to conceive and have a healthy pregnancy after a miscarriage or stillbirth, some experience loss all over again. Some parents who felt like their first loss did not impact them greatly are surprised after a second or third loss to find that they are grieving their first baby's death on top of the more recent ones. Going to a support group can help address all of these.
- If you get pregnant again. The journey of pregnancy after loss has its own set of emotions, too. It is good, if you can, to find a PAL support group, as it can be difficult for those attending a regular loss support group to be around someone who is pregnant, even if they are PAL. If you cannot find one locally, you can check out those online, especially at Hannah's Prayer and Pregnancy After Loss support.
- When you have had a rainbow baby. Postpartum hormones combined with both the joy of a newborn and the missing of your other child can make for great confusion.
- When life feels normal. You don't have to be in the midst of crisis to join a support group. Sometimes in those moments that feel normal, we parents of children in Heaven still need to connect with each other, to have the freedom to say the names of our children in an environment where they will never be forgotten.
- When you feel that God has genuinely healed your heart, even though you'll never forget. The healthiest of support groups have members in it from all points along the spectrum of loss, from recent to months and even years out. Those new to the journey can gain hope from those who have endured the worst and survived. Having walked the walk, those who are further down the road can find great purpose in reaching out to other parents.
- Next week. Now. Any time is a good time if it would encourage your heart. Being part of a community brings comfort and hope in a way that little else can.
If you are in the Columbia, SC, area and would like to find a support group, please visit our support groups page for local contacts.