Why Support Groups are Important (The Forming of M.E.N.D. – Houston)

June 29, 2016

Guest Post by Jaimie

My husband, Gerald and I had been married for 4 years when we decided to try to get pregnant.  We had absolutely no problems and were pregnant before we knew what hit us. We were so excited!! I started visiting my OB on the regular scheduled checkups. However, at each appointment, the nurse would give me a different due date. Looking back, I am sure my doctor had it in the back of his mind that this wasn’t normal. When I was 16 weeks pregnant, he asked me to have a triple screen. The results confirmed that our baby girl had Trisomy 18, a chromosomal disorder which is almost always fatal, normally before or shortly after birth.

A friend of mine from Dallas who had lost a baby sent me information on M.E.N.D. I emailed the president, Rebekah Mitchell, not really knowing what I wanted to know or ask.  She “introduced” me to many other moms via email who had lost babies due to Trisomy 18. During the next 17 weeks, I spent countless hours emailing people who understood what I was going through. They gave me a lot of helpful information so I was very prepared (materially) at the hospital.

At 34 weeks, my amniotic level was measuring 40 weeks, so my doctor decided to induce me. We went in to the hospital on June 30th and had Abigail Grace on July 1st at 2:43 in the morning. Our parents and siblings were there and we all held her for hours.

After the birth of my 2nd daughter, God started tugging at my heart about opening up a support group in Houston. There was no Christian infant loss organization in Houston, the 4th largest city in the country.

I had been so comforted by the women in the Dallas chapter of M.E.N.D., that I wanted to help the women in my own area. It is one thing to connect via email/internet, but there is a whole new level of connection when it is personal, face to face.

On June 16th of 2005, we had our first meeting. Almost 7 years later, we have had over 200 families come to our support group and countless other families who M.E.N.D.-Houston has touched through comfort bags that we send out to any grieving family who contacts us, our Walk to Remember, Candlelight Christmas Ceremony and Face Book page. We welcome any family grieving the loss of their baby to join us every 3rd Thursday of the month at our meeting in Houston. Some of our families still come after 7 years, not because they need the support anymore, but because they are now able to give it to others. Also, the friendships which are formed during grief, especially when it is a similar grief, are bonds unlike any other.

We have had families from all different religions, races, ages and types of infant loss come to our support group meetings. Even though our ministry is Christian, families feel comfortable coming to our meetings because of the warmth and compassion that our members give to each other and new families who attend.

We don’t judge anyone’s background, but encourage the peace and hope that Christ gives to grieving people. We don’t have set topics or speakers, but discuss what is on the hearts and minds of those in attendance. It always helps talking and listening to others who have gone through a similar experience.

Currently, there are 9 chapters of M.E.N.D around the country. However, our bi-monthly newsletter is free and is sent to 10+ countries around the world. Even though each chapter has their own Face Book page, I highly encourage the face to face support that is offered each month.

M.E.N.D. is growing around the country every year. If you are interested in forming this ministry in your area, I would highly recommend that you contact Rebekah Mitchell, Founder/President for more information, Rebekah@mend.org .  Here are some of the criteria for becoming a Chapter Director:

A chapter director, along with two to three committed individuals must:
  • Embrace and agree with the basic, orthodox truths of the Christian faith and the essential issues of salvation and believe in the foundational truths of the Christian gospel.
  • Agree with the M.E.N.D. Mission Statement and Position of Faith Statement.
  • Follow the M.E.N.D. Guidelines and the M.E.N.D. Support Group Format.
  • Must regularly attend church (at least twice a month) and be under the spiritual authority and accountability of a licensed Christian minister.
  • Have experienced pregnancy or early infant loss personally at least one year prior to applying for chapter leadership.
Directing a chapter of M.E.N.D. has not only been healing for me, but I have had the opportunity to see it help in the healing of so many people. I read their stories in our newsletters, listen to them at our meetings and see them hang an ornament on a tree for their baby, even after having other children, year after year at the Walk to Remember. Support groups are not for the “weak and helpless”. It takes courage to come for the first time. It is a powerful thing to be able to talk openly about your baby, to say their name out loud, to a group who has been there and you can be confident that they will not judge if you cry or laugh. They will cry or laugh with you. It has been my honor and my pleasure to direct the Houston chapter of M.E.N.D. for the past 7 years. I have made many wonderful friends and seen many leaders rise up within the ministry. I have since had 2 subsequent daughters, but what a joy it is to be Abby’s mom at least one time a month at M.E.N.D.

Jaimie Crump, jaimie@mend.org
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