One of the most devastating losses a parent will ever face is the death of a child. The pain of coping with a stillborn baby's loss can feel overwhelming and impossible regardless of expected loss. Many parents feel lonely, lost, and alone without anyone to talk to for fear that their loved ones wouldn't understand the depth of their loss or the pain they're experiencing.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What’s a Stillbirth Support Group?
- Popular Online Stillbirth Support Groups
- Popular Online Stillbirth Support Groups, Forums, or Chat Rooms
- How to Find In-Person Stillbirth Support Groups
- Tips for Getting the Most Out of a Stillbirth Support Group
When you or someone you know experiences the death of a child, it seems that friends and family are at a loss as to what to say. Parents may feel alienated and unable to share in their tragedy with others around them out of fear of making them uncomfortable. Fortunately, there are grief and bereavement resources available for all parents suffering through the stillbirth death of their child.
What’s a Stillbirth Support Group?
Stillbirth support groups exist to help bereaved parents learn to cope with the overwhelming pain and sadness following the death of a child. These resources extend beyond what’s found in books about stillbirth, providing a more comprehensive look at how the stillbirth death of a child affects the parents, siblings, and extended family, in general.
Support groups exist both online and in-person welcoming parents of all genders to join together to share their grief journeys and experiences after their child’s stillbirth. Here, bereaved individuals can learn new coping skills, tell their stories, and share tips and tricks on getting through the most challenging days.
Anyone can join these groups, including extended family members who have difficulty getting through their grief. There’s a support group for everyone, and finding the right one is about to get easier.
Popular Online Stillbirth Support Groups
Because there aren’t many stillbirth support groups out there, the best ones that stand out from the rest. A support group’s popularity depends on the number of members it attracts and retains with every passing year, rankings, and feedback provided by current and past members. We’ve narrowed down the most popular online stillbirth support groups worth checking out.
1. The International Stillbirth Alliance
This online resource for stillbirth and other types of infant loss brings people together from all over the world to share their experiences and help each other cope with some of the biggest challenges of suffering the stillbirth death of a child.
Membership is open to both men and women and provides educational and research resources to those seeking information on stillbirth and neonatal death prevention.
2. March of Dimes
The March of Dimes provides a wealth of free online information for individuals interested in learning more about the causes and prevention of stillbirth in the US.
They make available a wealth of literature and links to local support and resources to help connect bereaved parents with outside sources who can help. They offer a free booklet for grieving parents and a way to communicate with others with shared experiences.
3. The Miscarriage Association
The Miscarriage Association offers resources to help individuals and families cope with the loss of a child due to miscarriage and includes other types of losses.
They provide information to educate the reader about their loss and what to expect afterward. They also have valuable information and resources on moving forward with trying again to have a child.
Popular Online Stillbirth Support Groups, Forums, or Chat Rooms
There are many online grief forums to turn to for added help and support following a stillbirth. Often parents who've experienced the stillbirth death of a child find themselves lacking the support they need from friends and loved ones.
Many people who've never experienced a similar loss find it challenging to comprehend the depth of an expectant parent's pain and suffering when their unborn child dies. Some of the help comes from support groups, forums, and chat rooms found online. Most are free to join and provide love, comfort, and a safe place for parents to talk about their loss and experiences.
4. Glow in the Woods
Glow in the Woods is a popular online forum for the support of bereaved individuals suffering from the stillbirth death of a child.
This forum is a place for people to join and share their grief experiences online. The forum is connected through The Stillbirth International Alliance and is its primary source of bereavement support for those wishing to communicate with others and talk about their loss.
Grieving.com is one of the oldest online grief support communities founded in 1997. This forum brings together over a quarter of a million people from over 100 countries to support grieving individuals and families through community interaction.
Anyone who’s experienced the loss of a child through stillbirth or is interested in learning more about stillbirth is welcome to join the discussions.
Sands is an Australian-based online community for bereaved parents who've suffered the miscarriage, stillbirth, or neonatal death of a child. Parents worldwide can connect with others who share similar experiences as they come together to honor and remember the children they've lost.
They offer in-person support wherever they have a local chapter and offer online and over-the-phone support. They extend the same support and information to the bereaved's family, friends, and workplace to spread awareness of the need for healthy grieving.
How to Find In-Person Stillbirth Support Groups
Your doctor is always the first person to turn to after such a tragic loss. One of the first places to start your search for an in-person stillbirth support group is by asking for your OB/GYN for a referral. They can discuss how you're doing after your loss and recommend the best treatment to help you get through the initial stages of grief.
Doctors and other hospital staff will know where to point you to find support groups in your area for the type of loss suffered. You may want to wait a few days or weeks to accept the reality of your loss before seeking outside support sources. Every doctor is well-equipped with referring their grieving patients to a therapist for added mental-health support, and yours shouldn't be any different.
Tips for Getting the Most Out of a Stillbirth Support Group
Seeking out and joining a support group may be a daunting task for a grieving parent. If this is your first experience with seeking this type of support, you can expect these group support sessions to take a while to get used to.
Not everyone does well in these group settings for different reasons, such as differing personalities, time constraints, and past experiences. Here are a few tips to help you along as you begin your healing journey from this tremendous loss.
Go with an open mind
Not everyone's cut out for group grief support sessions. Depending on your personality and other factors unique to your situation, thriving in a group setting may not be for you. However, group therapy sessions do work, as their long history of success proves.
After vetting a few groups to see which is best for you, the best thing you can do is go into each session with a positive mental attitude and ready for healing. Remember that it may take visiting several groups before you find the right fit.
Honor your grief
Coping with the loss of a stillborn child is devastating to every parent. Your hopes and dreams for that child and your family vanish instantly, leaving you feeling a profound pain and emptiness in your heart and soul. As you acquaint yourself with others in your support group, you may share many things in grief.
Allow yourself to express your deepest emotions as you explore your pain. Try to keep yourself from judging your suffering against other parents in the group. You can't compare your grief journey to anyone else's, and everyone's grief is valid.
Don’t compare your loss to others
Every stillbirth represents a tragic loss to expectant parents everywhere who hoped to bring a healthy newborn home. Your pain and suffering aren't any more or less than the next grieving parent's. Everyone's loss is tragic, and their stories are theirs to share without outside judgment or comparison from other group members.
One way to successfully navigate each group member's profound grief and sadness is by respecting each other's grief journeys and the pain reflected in each loss. This mutual respect is a way to build trust among members so that everyone feels comfortable opening up about their experiences.
Take with you only what resonates
No group member will always wholly agree with everyone else in the group, and that’s okay. When people from all stages of life come together to share in their grief, you can expect many personalities, experiences, and losses.
Remember that you can expect heightened emotions during periods of profound grief and sadness, and grieving individuals may become more sensitive in their feelings and harsher in their words. Try not to take everything to heart. Accept the things brought up in the group’s conversation that resonate with you and your story while leaving everything else behind.
Participate when you’re ready
Join each session with the expectation of participating in the conversation. If you find that you’re not quite ready to jump in to continue or add to the discussion, it’s okay to wait it out until you are. Don’t pressure yourself into doing anything that you’re not ready for because of outside pressure or internal conflict within yourself.
Expect that it’ll take you a few sessions to feel comfortable enough to allow for the expression of your raw emotions among this new group of people. As you get more comfortable following each session, join in the conversation by asking a few questions from time to time.
Support for Parents Coping With Stillbirth
Experiencing the stillbirth of a child brings a tremendous sense of loss for the parents, siblings, and other close family members who were expecting the birth of a healthy child.
The devastation following this type of loss is unimaginable and can lead to severe mental health issues when left untreated. Those suffering through a stillbirth know that there are many resources available to help and support you through this extraordinary painful experience and that there is life after a stillbirth.