Tag Archives: Bereavement Program

A parent’s view on the Bereaved Parent Support Group

Very Special Kids supports hundreds of bereaved families, and over the past 12 months we have stayed connected with these families through an online Bereaved Parent Support Group. Every session has been different, some small and some large, with attendees from across Victoria and some interstate. Connections have been made and relationships formed, with acknowledgement that while everyone has a different story, they are on a similar journey.  

An anonymous mother, who has attended the Bereaved Parent Support Group has kindly shared her own reflection on how the support group has supported her through the grief of losing her child. She shares: 

“In 2015, Very Special Kids joined us on our extraordinary journey with our two very special children. 

Over the many years, we have received support and care beyond our expectations. Mostly recently, I was offered support through the Bereaved Parent Group. I didn’t think that any kind of support would work for me, I was and still am in disbelief of my life’s greatest tragedy. However, I agreed to join the session after talking to my Family Support Practitioner. 

As I waited for the first session, I could not believe the intense emotions I was feeling. A part of me did not want to attend because it would mean I was accepting what happened. The roller coaster of emotions was quite draining. 

On the day of my first session, I decided I will be invisible. I will turn off my microphone and video, so I am there but not there. This was the first time I met Family Support Practitioner’s, Edwina and Kevin. I realised here are two absolute strangers giving their time after work to support parents like myself, how could I not want to speak with them?  

When other parents joined the session and shared about their precious child, I was speechless and relieved. Speechless because of their courage and relieved to know they have been where I am. 

The more parents I met the more I realised I have found people who “get me”. I have a space where I can cry my heart out, feel another parent’s pain, be inspired by another parent’s journey and listen, listen, listen to others speak my words… a connection I cannot find anywhere else. 

I felt it is a space where I can “be me”, free to talk about my precious daughter. Tell her story, share our rich and blessed life with supportive parents who understand my grief. 

When I was a child, I learnt a beautiful song “Count your blessings, name them one by one”. 

I count Very Special Kids, as one of my blessings.” 

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.