Shortly after Ella passed away, I came to realize that the hospital where she took her last breath did not have a program to support bereaved families, a fact too common to many hospitals because of lack of funding and perhaps a choice to focus on healing patients versus caring for those who lost a loved one.
So, I found myself mostly alone, even though I physically was not at the time, trying to connect with someone else who understood my loss – the loss of a parent – someone who related to me as a bereaved mom.
That connection was not an easy one to find. I reached out to a local support group and was told I could not join as they were already in the middle of a semester support program. I then turned to the tools that helped me stay sane throughout Ella’s hospitalizations: the Internet and Facebook where Ella’s life had been documented – because it made it easy for me to reach out to her extended family living thousands of miles away and because my friends were an amazing support system.
I started searching for grouping of bereaved parents and quickly came to see that none would really serve my need. Some were private and requests to be included were ignored, others at first glance did not look hopeful. So out of desperation, I went ahead and created my own Parent to Parent Bereavement Online Support Group on Facebook.
From a mom in Australia, to another in Georgia, USA – the group slowly grew. And although the interactions were sometimes sporadic, all are voluntary and come from the best experts at grieving a child: other parents who survive daily.
A few months later, I was able to join the Parent Support Bereavement Program at Canuck Place - a hospice for children in Vancouver which also offers bereavement support. And although I am no longer formally a member of the group receiving support on a bi-weekly basis, I continue to meet monthtly with other parents at Canuck Place for support and to exchange coping mechanisms.
At the same time, I became a member of other groups out there and continue to share my experience as well as receive and give support.
If you would like to become a resource for othe bereaved parents, please send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org