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Starting A Support Group


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Does anyone have any ideas/resources for starting a parent support group? I live in a very small town (pop 1200). we have recently had several of our young people pass away, including my own son on Mother's Day of this year. I practice medicine in this town but still have NO idea how to go about starting something like this nor how to manage it. The closest mental health resources we have are 50 miles away. Any suggestions would be welcome.

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You might contact compassionatefriends.org. It is an organization for those who have lost a child. They may be able to help you set up a group in your area.

Also, our hospital has a grief support group. It may not be just parents and if they don't have a group there maybe they would be willing to start one if enough people showed an interest. I'll tell you from experience it is getting people to come at least twice that is the hard part.

Good luck in your endeavors. Those of us grieving need all the support we can get.

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Dear One,

I'm so sorry to learn of the death of your son ~ and on Mother's Day of all days. How horrible that must be for you ~ I simply cannot imagine.

I commend you for wanting to start a support group in your town, and I certainly understand your desire to do so. If you're like most of us, however, you've barely had time to emerge from the initial shock and numbness of your loss, much less to be ready to take on such a big project. Mary Linda's suggestion to contact The Compassionate Friends is excellent, but even that organization requires that at least 18 months have passed before a parent, grandparent or adult sibling is considered ready to start a local chapter. As I mentioned in an earlier post, there is nothing magical about allowing 12 or 18 months to go by following the death of a loved one, but most experts agree that it is best that we allow ourselves that first year to experience the first four seasons of our grief ~ one year of all those "firsts" (birthdays, anniversaries, holidays or any other special days) without our loved one's physical presence in our lives ~ and at least that much time to learn to work on and to process our loss before we are ready and able to volunteer to work with other bereaved individuals.

That is not to say that there cannot be valid exceptions to this rule of thumb, of course, and as you consider proceeding with your desire to start a support group in your town (especially since you have no other local sources for grief support), these are the books I would recommend:

Support Group Manual: A Session-by-Session Guide by Harriet Sarnoff-Schiff

The Understanding Your Grief Support Group Guide: Starting and Leading a Grief Support Group by Alan D. Wolfelt, PhD

Death and Grief: Healing through Group Support by Harold Ivan Smith

You might also find this article helpful: Bereaved Mom 'Saved' by Looking Outward, Helping Others

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Thank you for your suggestions. I know part of this is my "type A" being in control=feeling more "normal". I have experienced the initial trauma, the "lull" and now am dealing with the second wave of everthing with the change of seasons. First it was days, then weeks, then months now a whole season is gone. And I don't think I will be ready to "do" anything like getting this going for a while....but it is something I have thought about and think it would help not only me but other mothers/parents.

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