Attending our first Perinatal Loss Support Group

Since our ectopic pregnancy loss, I have seen a grief counsellor twice and began working with my fertility coach again. The grief counsellor recommended that my husband and I consider attending our local Perinatal Loss Support Group that meets once a month.

Last Tuesday (which also happened to be my first day back to work), my husband and I went to our first group session. The session was 2 hours in length and was held in a conference room at a bereavement centre (meaning office building).

There were 13 people in attendance including the grief counsellor, 8 sets of couples, 3 mothers and 1 grandmother. I was relieved that there were 3 other men in the room as I know my husband wouldn’t have been pleased had he been the only one.

Since I am a highly energetically sensitive person, I could feel the intensity of the grief as the room started to fill up. Lesson learned for next time. I need to protect myself better before we go. 

The session started out by introducing yourself and telling a bit of your story. I dreaded this moment. I was almost last to go and I knew I would burst into tears the second it was my turn. And I did. 

As I regained my composure, I made a joke about only wearing mascara because it was my first day back to work and apologized for the black streaks that I’m sure were about to appear on my face. The thing is, once you’ve cried in public as much as I have, you actually learn how to avoid those black streaks even if you aren’t wearing waterproof mascara. I highly suggest the blotting approach to dry up those tears.

After introductions, there was an open discussion where you could bring up issues, scenarios or feelings to share with the group. The newcomers tended to keep to themselves and were less open to start (me included which is a surprise). The regular attendees all knew each other and openly shared their worries, wishes and experiences.

As the conversation flowed, the highlight for me was actually seeing what my husband was getting out of it. I was quite relieved that he could relate to many of the other husband’s stories (i.e. crying when alone in the tractor). I was touched that these men were willing to share their vulnerability and emotion. That takes strength. 

As for me, I was torn between a sense of commonality and a sense of aloneness. As a grieving mother, I belonged with the group; however, I was the only infertility patient which made my story a bit different than the rest.

When discussing the concept of guilt, I spoke up about how I actually didn’t think there was anything I could do to prevent my ectopic. During our beta limbo, I made it quite clear that I would not end my pregnancy without proof of an ectopic. After I shared this story, I felt like I received blank stares from everyone except another woman (who I had previously met but that’s another story). This woman agreed with me and said she held no guilt either.

Also, there were only 3 couples (including us) who didn’t have other children. It was a bit difficult to hear the woman share stories about their growing their families, but it made it quite clear that another baby will not just magically make the feelings go away.

Overall, what I got out of the session was the following:

  • Many women continue to grieve their pregnancy losses years after they happen
  • There are many ways you can commemorate and celebrate the life of your angel baby
  • Even after you have other children, you will always remember your previous losses
  • Men show their grief differently, but it affects them nonetheless
  • Everyone deals with the grieving process in their own way

Was attending the session worth it? Definitely for both of us. This experience brought my husband and I closer together as he was more willing to talk about how he felt after our loss once we got home. It also helped me to see that grief is acceptable and normal following a pregnancy loss. I had been telling myself to pick it up and get my act together. After hearing some women talk about how it still affects them years later, I realized that this loss will never leave me. I will grow and learn to deal with it, but I will never forget my baby.

Would I go again? I struggled with this one for a few days, but I decided that yes, I will return for at least one more session. I feel like I need to give it a second chance. Different people come every month and maybe next month another infertility patient will be there who can better relate to my experience.

As for individual counselling, I’ve decided to not reschedule for now. I’m working with my fertility coach once a week and I prefer her approach over the other counsellor’s.

Would I recommend a loss support group to you? Yes, I would recommend attending at least one session. I think there is lots of value in hearing other couple’s experiences as it truly does make you feel less alone. You do not have to share any of your own story if you are not comfortable doing so. If you are looking to find a  pregnancy loss support group, I’d recommend contacting Resolve (in the US), IAAC (in Canada) or your local hospital.

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17 thoughts on “Attending our first Perinatal Loss Support Group

  1. Thanks for sharing your experience and reflecting on how you felt going in and afterwards.
    I have chosen not to attend our local loss support group, but only because it is run by the Early Pregnancy Loss Clinic, and our experience there has been the absolute worst experience of 5 losses. We swore we would never go back to that clinic, which means attending there support group is simply out of the question.
    That said, we have an awesome counsellor who has experienced her own losses, and has been such a critical part of our survival through all of this. So, my recommendation to people is always to find what works for them, and to search out other counsellors and/or groups until they find the right support.

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  2. I am glad you went and had a positive experience for both you and your husband. I hope the the following groups you attend fit more in line with your needs and concerns and give you further comfort. I with the had that near me for chemical pregnancies, but I honestly think that people view the two so differently I’d be looked at and judged for being there. Anywho, it’s good your getting your feet wet again with social situations and work. Much love your way always

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    • I think I need to write that post about how I met the woman I knew at the group. I honestly thought I would feel the same way – that my loss wasn’t “enough”. But in all honestly, the truly compassionate souls recognize that a loss is a loss no matter when it happened. Its so much more than a few cells. It’s your dreams and your future.

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  3. Thank you for sharing your experience with the support group. My husband and I actually drove all the way to a support group meeting, only for me to change my mind as soon as we pulled in (yesterday’s blog entry). I’m going to try again, this just wasn’t the month for it. Your experience is very encouraging to me.

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  4. Wow. First let me say that I am in awe of you. I could not have done that so soon after my first loss. The first group infant and pregnancy loss event we attended (at our grief counsellor’s invitation) after our first loss took place months later and my husband and I sobbed through the entire thing and were too broken to drive ourselves home for a while. My eyes still sting thinking about it and that was four years ago. Like you, I’m an energy sponge and those kinds of events are hard on me if I am not grounded and it’s hard for me to be grounded when it comes to RPL.

    I guess that’s a round-about way of endorsing your observation that women experience our losses for years after, even when they’re followed by a live birth (of a child who survives beyond birth). My heart still hurts on certain due dates. I expect yours will, too. That’s not a bad thing. It’s a tribute to how much our little ones mean to us. Your little girl is lucky to have you as her mom. I cannot wait until she comes home into your arms.

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  5. Thank you for sharing your experience. I’ve always been a bit scared to attend a support group because it’s not typical to have 4 losses and I’m always been afraid I’ll scare some of those girls with my story. I know it sounds crazy, but I don’t want them to think my experience could happen to them. I’m so glad your husband opened up a bit and there were other men there. Thinking of you!

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  6. Grief is a strange thing. When I think about the fact that we are finally getting close to having our take home baby, I can’t help thinking about my children that came before this baby and honoring and remembering them has been weighing heavily on my mind. My husband and I were at a baby class last night and the instructor asked everyone if they were expecting their first. Everyone said yes right away except us. We paused for a while and eventually just nodded and said yes. I had to hold back the tears. It felt so wrong to say that, but we also didn’t want to get into it with a bunch of strangers who were all clearly enjoying a fruitful first pregnancy. It’s not the first time I have been asked this and sometimes I answer truthfully and other times I just say yes because I can tell the truth will just cause an uncomfortable conversation to ensue. The reality is a day doesn’t go by that I don’t think about my son and my other angels I lost after him, and I know I will never not feel grief over their loss, but it does get easier hon. I know it’s hard to imagine right now, but it does. I’m glad you and your husband are getting the support you need. Big hugs to you. Your angel will never be forgotten.

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  7. I’m so happy you went and found something meaningful.

    My mom had two miscarriages. Back then, women did not talk about this stuff. At the time, she didn’t realize that miscarriages aren’t uncommon, so she blamed herself. When I was growing up, she made a point of talking about her miscarriages with all her kids, and I will admit that I didn’t fully understand why. (You know… because kids are dumb.)

    It wasn’t until recently that I realized this was her way of honoring those pregnancies. Over time, she lost that sense of blame. I think talking about it openly helped.

    Thank you for sharing your story- it does more good than you could possibly realize.

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  8. I am so glad that you and your husband found some benefit to attendig the group. I started attending a closed support group in March, after we lost our first baby. I don’t know where I would be without it. I am glad you are going to give it a second chance- personally I found the first session to be the hardest, and after that it got a bit easier to open up and hear other people’s stories. Much love to you during this difficult time.

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