Help available for bereaved parents

Help available for bereaved parents

The death of a child brings pain and devastation that is unthinkable.

The grief journey for a parent who has lost a child is that of a lifetime. The grief can feel overwhelming and a multitude of emotions come with this loss, including shock, numbness, confusion, disbelief, and is often followed by anger, guilt, loneliness, despair, sadness and regret.

The occurrence and intensity of these emotions are all a natural response to the death of a child.

All individuals — including bereaved parents — process grief in their own distinctive ways. Some folks express their pain openly while others keep their feelings inside. There is no wrong way to grieve. Society does not always recognize this. While every parent ultimately travels their own road of grief, finding support by others who have experienced a similar loss can help one understand their own grieving process and give hope that they can survive a loss as they see others have.

The idea that one should not have to walk the journey alone and support from other parents who have endured such tragedy, is the reason behind the existence of the local Compassionate Parents Support Group in Sheboygan County. Compassionate Parents is one of Mental Health America in Sheboygan County’s grief support groups for bereaved parents.

The group is peer-led by facilitators Jane and Jeff Meyer who experienced the loss of their son. The group meets on the second Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at MHA’s Open Door program site, 817 N. Eighth St., Sheboygan.

Bereaved parents are encouraged to turn to Compassionate Parents for support. Hope and comfort can be found in sharing stories and talking about one’s child without the fear of others turning away, then the tears come. Often, sharing thoughts and feelings helps to allow expressions of grief in an environment of acceptance and true understanding.

The Compassionate Friends, a worldwide organization dedicated to supporting families after the death of a child (www.compassionate, is holding a worldwide candle-lighting event Dec. 13. The local support group, Compassionate Parents, is participating in Elkhart Lake at Grace Lutheran Church. This service is in remembrance of all children who have died. Those attending are asked to arrive by 6:45 p.m., as candles will be lit worldwide by 7 p.m. Refreshments will be served after. All family members and friends are welcome. The idea is to light a candle so that the light of the children lost will always shine on.

To learn more about Compassionate Parents and/or the upcoming candle-lighting event, call Jane Meyer at 920892-6602 or Julie Kaboord at 920-876-3181. Mental Health America in Sheboygan County and staff can also be a resource at info@mha, 920-458- 3951 or www.mha

Kate Baer is co-chairman of the Healthy Sheboygan County 2020 Mental Health and Substance Abuse Committee and executive director of Mental Health America in Sheboygan County.