June marks the anniversary month of the very first Rainbow Parent Support Group meeting. The year was 1982, and a core group of four very young parents had been working on organizing this program for almost eight months. Sadly, gratefully, and surprisingly – the meeting was attended by several bereaved families. And since that time, parents have come together nearly every month to share their lives and their babies with one another. And parents have stepped forward to provide support to others. It remains a safe, non-judgmental, nurturing environment in which we can share in the knowledge that we are respected and our babies are cherished. Knowing others are grieving, helps parents feel less alone. Knowing that parents are healing, provides hope. Our struggles and our joys are shared.
Much about Rainbow has remained the same: it is a multi-denominational group. We do not affiliate with any specific political or religious group. While the experiences of all members are valuable – we still do not publicly share names of medical professionals who may have provided our greatest strength, but sometimes contributed to our greatest sadness. We have changed the meeting day – but we still meet monthly. We are still available to meet privately over the phone or sometimes in person, with bereaved families who are unable to attend meetings.
Some things have changed: while I am the sole remaining original member, I have a remarkable co-facilitator who has provided her home and her help to many families over the years, as well. While we all wish there was no longer a need for support for bereaved parents, we are grateful there is still a safe place to remember and honor our infants and families. Over the years, our referral sources have grown and even though not everyone who receives Rainbow information attends meetings, they are provided the option should the need or desire arise. There has never been a ‘wrong’ time to seek help. We have expanded our program to include a website for support and resource information. And we have a private Facebook group that provides a forum for sharing, even if a family does not live in this area or cannot attend meetings.
I am grateful for every single parent I have met through Rainbow. I cherish the shared memories of our babies. I ache when sadness prevails and rejoice when joy abounds.
In thinking about this post – I found myself searching through old folders of support information. I came across something written by a bereaved parent in Carmel, Indiana, that I had given to families in the hospitals, many years ago. I love that this still holds true and remains a hopeful reminder of healing.
YOU KNOW YOU ARE MAKING PROGRESS WHEN…
- You can remember your child with a smile
- You can realize the painful comments others make are made in ignorance
- You can reach out to help someone else
- You stop dreading holidays
- You can sit through a church sevice without crying
- You can concentrate on something besides your child
- You can find something to thank God for
- You can be alone in your house without panic
- You no longer feel you have to go to the cemetery every day
- You can tolerate the sound of a baby crying
- You can find something to laugh about
- You can drive by the hosptal without crying
- You no longer feel exhausted all of the tme
- You can appreciate a sunset, the smell of newly mowed grass, the pattern on a butterfly’s wings.
– A bereaved parent in Carmel, Indiana
I send a humble thank you to everyone who has made, and continues to make Rainbow a vital part of our community. And I wish all bereaved parents continued healing.