Parents join together through their journey of grief

Contradicting the natural cycle of life, the death of a child can be the most profound loss for a family. The recent Very Special Kids Bereaved Parent Weekend held at Amberley in Lower Plenty gave parents the opportunity to explore the impact of their child’s death in a safe and affirming space.

Thirteen couples came together for a weekend that included relaxed dining, massages, scenic walks along the Yarra River and yoga, alongside therapeutic activities.

Family Support Worker Puchi Dunne Stern said the supportive environment helped parents share their memories.

“Parents were able to express and reflect on their grief, while also having the opportunity to be pampered and meet other parents who have experienced the death of a child.

“While everyone’s journey may be different, parents indicated that they felt the personal stories shared were reaffirming.”

Similarly, the Bereaved Parent Group in Hume meet on a quarterly basis to discuss their experience of grief and draw on support from other bereaved parents.

A recent meeting in Tongala was attended by two couples who discussed the topic of how the life and death of a child changes identity. Each parent was invited to share some thoughts and feelings around the topic.

Hume Family Support Worker Jenni Coldwell said the group meetings validate grief for the individual and the group as a whole.

“The recent meeting highlighted the intense emotional responses to grief and the common ground of all parents grieving for their child who has died,” she said.

Parent attending the meeting offered the following comments on the benefits of meeting with each other:

“It makes you feel like you’re not on your own. You can let your guard down. It builds hope and happiness for the future and reinforces the importance of the special times, to enjoy the moment and not put off enjoyment until tomorrow.”

“It gives me a chance to meet other parents and talk about our experiences. They get it. We’re able to participate in activities and talk about our children without being looked at as weird or strange.”

“It’s always great to talk about our son and our journey. It is helpful talking to other parents about our life stories and to support each other through our grief.”

“It is helpful to know that others have been through similar things and think and feel the same way.”

The Very Special Kids Bereavement Program builds continuing links with bereaved families through a range of activities including Bereaved Parent Weekends and group meetings, Creative Memories craft sessions, Bereaved Sibling Days and the annual Remembrance Day ceremony.