A sure-fire way to create halt conversation at a party is to mention the fact that one’s newborn or unborn son our daughter has died.
But, talking about and sharing one’s thoughts and feelings is a necessary part of the grieving process.
This, marriage and family therapist Dan Stroman said, is why the Lost Angels support group has been an important part of the community for the past 11 or so years.
“I think it’s very important to acknowledge that while these are our losses, they are part of who we are,” the group facilitator said.
“The best way to grieve is to grieve -- not trying to avoid it or get around it.”
The group started more than a decade ago when Stroman was helping a couple that was having a hard time of coping with a full-term loss.
“They were going to be delivering in the hospital, and delivered a baby and told there were complications, and lost their baby,” Stroman said.
Linking them up with a support group that helps parents cope with the loss of children, the couple found that they didn’t quite fit in, and left after only one meeting.
“Most of these people had memories, and they didn’t have any memories,” Stroman said. “They had a whole future lost, so it was a different kind of grief.”
Lost Angels was created to fill this void.
Although they’re not religiously centred, the word “angels” was used because of its hopeful connotations.
Having helped hopeful parents through the loss of about 50 children through various stages of pregnancy, Stroman has learned a lot.
One, is that prospective parents don’t like the terms miscarriage – “Why does it sound like mom’s to blame?” Stroman asked.
I think it’s very important to acknowledge that while these are our losses, they are part of who we are. - Lost Angels group facilitator Dan Stroman
Another is that the hospital system sometimes comes across as sterile, and doesn’t treat the loss of unborn infants with the same passion as the deaths of those who have been born, even though parents may feel similarly in both situations.
As such, in addition to helping individual parents, the group has aimed to “make a difference in the medical world to try to help them understand the kind of medical care that would be more patient-orientated – more understanding,” Stroman said.
“They don’t refer to that as a baby, they refer to that as a product of conception. It’s a nice medical term – nice, institutional and sterile, but it hurts the mom to refer to it as that.”
Lost Angels recognize the National Day of Remembrance for Infant and Newborns Lost with a balloon launch on Oct. 15 of every year, an annual Christmas event, and have even had a memorial bench created at the Prince Albert Memorial Gardens.
The group meets at the Prince Albert First Baptist Church every second Wednesday of the month at 7:15. They tack on an additional meeting, during the fourth Tuesday of the month, when they’re dealing with a new loss.
“I would say that, in a nutshell, we’re validating the feelings that people are feeling,” Stroman said.
“We’re not trying to impose upon them someone else’s idea of how they should grieve – we are saying it’s OK for you to grieve in your own unique way.”