Many people consider the death of a child, regardless of age, to be one of the most difficult losses to endure. It is not the normal course of nature - children are supposed to bury their parents, not the other way around. Since 2004 I have been conducting Loss of Child Group specifically designed for those in the Austin area who have experienced the death of a child under the age of 18. The group provides a safe place for parents to discover their own answers to some of the questions that consume them following their loss, help them make meaning of their loss, and, eventually, to find peace.
Who attends the Loss of Child Group?
The roads that lead families to the Loss of Child Group are varied, but the end results are similar - the loss of hopes and dreams for their child. The group is for all parents, regardless of the cause for their loss. You may find that in the group there are people whose child died because of a disease, an accident, or an act of violence. Often times both parents come to the meeting, but it is not required. Individual mothers and fathers are always welcome. I do not discriminate based on sex, ethnicity, religion, or socioeconomic status.
The group addresses not only the common grief reactions, but also the concerns specific to losing a child. During the meetings, parents informally discuss their own experiences as they feel comfortable and frequently learn from and provide support to each other. While each group develops its own personality, I realize that there are commonalities for everyone. To make sure all aspects of this loss are considered, I interject into the conversations those that do not come up on their own.
What are the specifics?
Unlike most other support groups, the Loss of Child Group is a closed group, meaning the same individuals attend each of the six consecutive weekly meetings. Normally, I hold them on Thursday nights from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. 2-3 times per year in the Community Room of the Ronald McDonald House at 1315 Barbara Jordan Blvd. The Ronald McDonald House and Charities of Central Texas sponsors the groups so they are free of charge.