No, I don’t mean the people who live next door or your kids’ friends’ parents. By “Community”, I mean others who can understand what you are going through because they have gone through or are going through the same thing. This could be the same type of loss or the same way of coping.
After Liam died, I was desperate to find others who could understand my grief. He wasn’t really an infant or lost before birth, so I didn’t really fit in with the PAIL groups (though they all welcomed me with open arms!). I attended a local Compassionate Friends meeting and made some amazing friends, but even there I didn’t feel like anyone “got it”. Their stories were heartbreaking; murder, car accidents, suicide, cancer, but no one else had lost a toddler or lost their child in the same way.
It was after a particularly horrible day, where I had read some awful online comments about our tragedy, that I found a group on Facebook of people who knew EXACTLY what I was going through. It was a group of people who all lost their loved one in the same way and understood the deep grief and guilt that I was feeling. There were people of all stages, newly bereaved and years into their journey, and every one of them accepted me without judgement. It wasn’t until I found them that I was really able to start healing. I was able to share my darkest thoughts in a private forum, closely monitored by an amazing moderator who ensured that our private feelings stayed private. After some time, I stopped posting group about my feelings as often, but instead started offering comfort to the new members. I owe my life to this group and the members, I truly believe they saved my life. I was in a very dark place of guilt and pain, and they let me know that I was not alone.
I’ve done some researching and found some resources that I hope will help you find YOUR community.
Facebook Groups - I am a member of some of these groups, but others I searched for and chose based on the amount of members and their group rules.
Compassionate Friends - I recommend finding your local chapter’s group.
There are SO MANY GROUPS out there for all different types of loss. Please be sure to read the rules of the group and see how many admins there are to decide if it would be a good fit for you. You want a well monitored group that discourages any negative bashing.
Local Meetings - check also with your local churches and hospitals for any groups they may have.
Camps for Kids - Raising grieving children while you are also grieving is exhausting. These programs are a great way for your children to connect with other kids and share their feelings with others who understand.
Camp Cullin was started by a grieving mom after the loss of her son to SIDS. “Each July, grieving siblings meet at camp to participate in team building activities, healing techniques, art therapies.” The camp is located just outside of Fort Worth, TX.
Eluna - Camp Erin is the largest national bereavement group for youth. They have several camps all over the US.