October 6, 2020
Little Footprints Support Group Provides Comfort Amid Perinatal & Infant Loss
“Each person’s grief is as unique as their fingerprint. But what everyone has in common is that no matter how they grieve, they share a need for their grief to be witnessed.”
That’s what David Kessler, a leading grief researcher, tells us in his book, Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief.
That common experience, the need for grief to be witnessed, is at the heart of Little Footprints: Perinatal and Infant Loss Support Group held at EveryStep Grief & Loss Services, home of Amanda the Panda.
Every season, individuals and families who have experienced the loss of a baby gather on Monday evenings for six weeks to share a meal, share their story, and bear witness to the unique fingerprint of grief of others in the room. While our support groups traditionally meet in-person, because of COVID-19, our support groups are now being hosted virtually through Zoom.
What Sets Little Footprints Apart
While the Little Footprints group has proven to inspire friendship, support, and solidarity, there is no escaping the fact that every member has known unbearable sadness. They have all experienced the death of their babies. So what goes on inside those four walls—or on the Zoom screen—that keeps them coming back, week after week, as they navigate their grief?
A trained volunteer group facilitator provides options each week for activities, discussion topics and opportunities to share. Activities have included exercises such as designing your own “Greeting cards I wish I had received after my loss,” inspired by the work of Emily McDowell, writing letters of “What I would say to my baby if they were here today,” and watching grief-related TEDxTalk videos that spark passionate discussions.
Participants cry freely as they share the pain of first anniversaries without their babies, vent about good intentions that missed the mark, ways the medical system left them with fewer resources than they would have liked, and share children’s books that help them explain the loss to their surviving children. They also bring in ultrasound photos, baby blankets and maternity photos that carry both happy and sad memories, understood in all their nuance by the other group members.
The Little Footprints group has grown over the last year and a half, from 5 participants to 14 regularly attending each week and counting. It has been remarkable to see individuals and couples come in for their first week, a little quiet and keeping to themselves, and by the last session watching as friendships have formed, group chats have emerged, dinner plans have been made, and a true community of support has blossomed.
The members of this group lead by such a powerful example of welcoming spirit, honesty, and compassion. As the group continues into its next season—virtually for Fall 2020—we welcome anyone who has been impacted by perinatal and infant loss. Join us, share your story, and find community here.
To learn more about Little Footprints: Perinatal and Infant Loss Support Group, a free service of EveryStep Grief & Loss Services, Home of Amanda the Panda, call 515-223-4847 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A version of the above blog first appeared on Fletcher Foundation website. The Fletcher Foundation brings hope to families who are grieving after a miscarriage or stillbirth, as well as provides financial assistance to those enduring financial burdens due to the loss of a child. Our heart is to point mothers and families in a season of grief to joy and life after loss.