Still Standing is a wonderful resource, but sometimes you need to talk to someone in person. Reaching out online just isn’t enough. I recently had the chance to meet 60 wonderful women who are there for you when you need someone to talk to. The Pregnancy and Infant Loss Network is a volunteer organization here in Ontario that has in person support groups as well as one-on-one telephone support. They’ve been helping women for over 20 years and have grown from small beginnings to a large network of women (and a few men) across the province volunteering to help the newly bereaved.
These volunteers are some amazing people. Most have their own story of loss, and their own grief which they continue to cope with. Helping others through the process in turn helps them. By giving of themselves, they are able to share the pain, and this helps create meaning for their lives going forward without their babies.
In the early days after your baby has died, there is often such a huge physical ache in your heart, which talking to someone who has been there can help heal. Only another loss mother knows that ache, and is willing to sit with you while you endure those hard days. I am so grateful to those who once they are in a better place are prepared to help others in turn.
I’ve often thought this is our secret mission as baby loss moms. When Nate and Sam died, so many people, some of whom I’d never met before, came to welcome me into the sisterhood. Much of the reason I write for Still Standing is to let those who are new to the ‘club’ know that they are not alone and that there is life after loss. But in truth, I also do it to help myself. Writing gives me an outlet to talk about my sons and to continue to keep their memory alive.
If you are at the point where you’re ready to help another woman, reach out to someone else. You can do it formally, through volunteering with PAIL or another local area group. You can do it informally, through women you know who’ve had a loss or through women you’ve never met, through social media. And if you’re not there yet, still reach out to someone else. Call your local area bereavement support group or go to a meeting. Don’t just read this article, respond to it and let others know where you’re at in your grief.
Amanda Ross-White is the proud mother of four beautiful children, including her twin boys Nate and Sam, who were stillborn in 2007. She is eternally grateful to watch her rainbow children, daughter Rebecca and son Alex, grow around her. She is also the author of Joy at the End of the Rainbow: A Guide to Pregnancy After a Loss, which won second place in the American Journal of Nursing’s Book of the Year Awards (Consumer Health).