Interestingly, after child loss the people you assumed that would be in your corner aren't always the ones who are able to help you. As a grieving mother, that can be very frustrating.
After my daughter died, I found my 'tribe' in a strange place—a support group for grieving mothers, crazy, I know. It was the first place I felt truly accepted for who I am now - a bereaved mom who wants nothing more than to talk about her daughter. This group was filled with women who shared the same brokenness. There was also incredible souls who had found healing and were able to share suggestions and compassion with those who were new to this dreaded club.
This tribe was perfectly imperfect, and it was mine.
After my daughter Katie died, I made the assumption that everyone who knew and loved me would be there to support me. I was wrong. REALLY wrong. Oh sure, at first, everyone came to her service or sent kindhearted messages, but the ones who have been most helpful have stayed by my side even after seven years. And they weren't necessarily who I thought they'd be.
I used to be angry with the people that weren't there for me or said insensitive things.
But now I've realized that they simply weren't equipped to help me. Perhaps they were too close to the situation and were dealing with their own grief. Perhaps they had their own life struggles that didn't allow them the extra energy to support me.
I have become very particular who I spend my time with and who I spend my energy on. While I don't expect people to sit and listen to me cry or feel sorry for me, I do like to be with people who lift me up. Goodness know that being in the company of those who pull you down is exhausting.
You may find that some groups leave you feeling uplifted and encouraged to take the next step forward while other groups leave you feeling empty or frustrated.
We are all different on this journey so it's important to respect our differences in healing too. What works for you may not be what works for someone else and vice versa.
If you are involved in online groups, check out past posts and images and see how you feel about them. I truly believe our feelings of pain and loss need to be validated, but repeatedly discussing the pain is not helpful for healing.
Look for those groups that offer heartfelt advice and suggestions to take baby steps on your journey through grief. Are there people in those groups that have shared words that resonate with you?
Here are three ways to find your tribe:
1. Online: Facebook groups are probably the easiest to find. Go to Facebook, hit the groups icon (currently a circle with 5 'people' inside) and enter grieving mothers or child loss or a similar keyword into the search bar. Take a peek at each group and request to join the ones that speak to you.
2. In-person: The Compassionate Friends is one group that has world-wide chapters, but each community likely has a group for bereaved moms as well. You might start by asking your doctor or therapist if they know of such groups. Searching online for groups in your community works too.
3. Ask your friends, neighbours, and co-workers if they know anyone who has lost a child (sadly it's more common that you think) and ask to speak with that person on the phone, in person, or by text. Most angel moms I know are more than happy to speak with a newly bereaved mother.
Grief friends and communities are vital because they are about belonging and connection - something we all crave when our world has been shaken to the core.
My tribe is where I have learned the most about myself, where I have been strong in good times and supported in tough times. I know these incredible Angel Mamas have my back just like I have theirs.
Do you know about the grief group and program I created call the Angel Moms VIP Community? It's a unique space for grieving moms to meet, share their journeys, and focus on living again. You can read more HERE.
Sending Love and light,
PS: I have also created a list of over 80+ ways to get through your child's birthday, Mother's Day, Christmas, and all the other significant days of the year. Each holiday has mix-and-match ideas. You can read more about it HERE.