If you are grieving the death of a child, having to deal with all the emotions, difficult questions, trauma and disbelief can feel overwhelming. The help and encouragement of others, especially others who have been there, can be therapeutic. A supportive group can help mothers and fathers process their loss and work on healing.
Organizations With Grief Support Groups for Parents
A number of groups and organizations offer grief support for parents who have lost a child. Some provide online support groups and resources, while others have local chapters that host in-person support groups. Most of these groups have non-profit status, are run by volunteers, and do not charge a fee to join.
The Compassionate Friends
The Compassionate Friends (TCF) provides support for grieving parents via more than 500 chapters throughout all U.S. states, as well as in the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico. TCF offers understanding, assistance, and support for bereaved families, including parents and siblings. TCF also offers resources such as memorials, as well as local and national events including candle lightings and memory walks. Use the website's chapter locator to find a TCF chapter in your area.
Bereaved Parents of the USA
Bereaved Parents of the USA (BPUSA) provides support for people who are newly bereaved, including parents, siblings, and grandparents. The national organization has local chapters throughout the United States that host monthly support group meetings. Along with local chapter support groups, BPUSA provides a variety of resources for bereaved families, including articles, poems, downloadable brochures, a newsletter, and a national conference.
If you're looking for an online support group set up as a discussion forum, Grieving.com is a great resource to use. This site has been operational since 1997 and has a very active and interactive community of users. More than 250,000 visit the community each year, connecting from over 100 different countries. They have a forum specific to grieving the loss of a child. You can engage by viewing the forum or joining the conversation by posting your own topics or replying to others.
The MISS Foundation provides C.A.R.E.S. (counseling, advocacy, research, education, and support) services to grieving parents. They offer crisis care and long-term assistance to parents mourning the loss of babies or children, as well as families facing a terminal diagnosis for an unborn baby. They offer online and in-person support groups, mentoring, counseling, workshops, and other resources. MISS also conducts research aimed at reducing the number of child deaths in the United States.
Mommies Enduring Neonatal Death
If you're a grieving mother who has experienced a miscarriage, stillbirth, or early infant death, Mommies Enduring Neonatal Death (M.E.N.D.) is a powerful resource for support, hope, and healing specific to the type of loss you experienced. M.E.N.D. hosts periodic commemorative ceremonies and events, such as annual Walk to Remember walkathons. They have a nationwide online support group as well as local chapters that host support groups throughout the United States.
Church-Based Grief Support Groups
Many churches offer grief support groups that are open to anyone who wants to participate. If you don't belong to a church or if your church doesn't have one, reach out to other ministries in your area to find out what options are available. Smaller churches are likely to have general grief support groups, but larger ones may have grief support groups that cater to the unique concerns of parents who have lost a child.
Where to Find Local Grief Support Resources for Parents
Along with organizations that provide support groups, there are additional ways for grieving parents to find support in their communities.
Participate in Meetup Groups
If you want to connect with other parents in your local community who are coping with the loss of a child, look to see if there is a Meetup group for bereaved parents in your area. The locations are somewhat limited at this time, but you can also start your own group where you live. Establishing a local group that has the potential to help others who are struggling with the loss of a child may provide you with a constructive outlet that can help with your own healing.
Join Facebook Groups
There are several private Facebooks groups for bereaved parents. If you're interested in connecting with other parents via this type of group, log in to your Facebook account and search for "bereaved parents support group" (or a similar phrase). Choose the "groups" filter in the search results to see the groups that match your search. You'll need to submit a request to any of the private groups that you want to join. You'll need to agree to any rules that the group has before being granted access.
Visit Clergy Members
If you belong to a church or feel connected to a particular religion, consider reaching out to a minister, priest, or another member of the clergy for help. Clergy members are usually trained to provide faith-based support for bereaved individuals and families. Meeting with a member of the clergy can often help parents who are in mourning find spiritual comfort in their grief.
Seek Grief Counseling
Grief counseling can be very beneficial to parents who have lost a child. Many counselors and psychologists offer or even specialize in grief counseling and support. You can find trained grief counselors through local referrals. Try asking a member of the clergy, a hospice agency, or a local funeral home, or using a tool such as GriefCounselingLocator.com.
More Actions to Help Bereaved Parents Cope
There are other ways to support grieving parents beyond connecting with others. Individual actions like reading relevant books or creating memorials for a deceased child can also help with grief.
Read to Help Your Grief
Your local library or bookstore is a wonderful resource for books filled with useful information for bereaved parents. Find the bereavement or grieving section (these should be labeled) to locate books written by bereavement experts or people who have walked in your shoes. A few excellent book choices include:
- Beyond Tears: Living After Losing a Child was created in collaboration with Ellen Mitchell. Beyond Tears is actually written by nine mothers who have each lost a child. This book is meant to give guidance and comfort to bereaved parents. This revised edition includes a new chapter written from the perspective of surviving siblings.
- Healing a Parent's Grieving Heart: 100 Practical Ideas After Your Child Dies was written by Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt. This book presents simple yet highly effective methods for coping and healing. It helps provide answers to parents trying to deal with the loss of a child and offers 100 practical, action-oriented tips for embracing grief.
- Shattered: Surviving the Loss of a Child was written by Gary Roe. This book is heartfelt, easy to read, and intensely practical. It explains the powerful impact that a child's death can have on parents, including emotionally, mentally, physically, relationally, and spiritually.
Create an Online Memorial for Your Child
As a grieving parent, you may find it helpful to share your child's story with friends, family, and/or the world via a social media profile or a memorial website. Consider using one of the options listed below.
- Much Loved allows you to create tributes and browse others.
- Legacy.com Memorial Websites offer an easy way to create an online memorial.
- Forever Missed enables you to create a free online memorial to share memories of someone you have lost.
- Never Gone is a place where you can share memories, stories, photos, videos, send condolences, write tributes, and link all your lost loved ones together.
- Remembered.com lets you create and maintain an online memorial website for loved ones you have lost.
Take Time to Get Help
If you are a grieving parent, it is okay to seek help. Grief support has the capacity to benefit the bereaved by providing an outlet and support for the emotions. Look for a physical group that meets in a brick-and-mortar place, as well as for online groups. Be careful, because every group may not meet your needs. Be part of a gathering that will assist you in coping the best you can in life after the death of a child.