Support group forms for grieving parents

By: 
Cindy Mullet
Thursday, November 7, 2019
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Returning to Glendive after the loss of her three-week-old son Carter, Ashley Powell felt isolated and alone and longed to find someone who knew what she was experiencing.

Powell said she finally found that through a support group in Billings. Now, several years after losing Carter, she feels ready to help other mothers work through their grief and loss by facilitating a new pregnancy and infant loss support group, Heart Prints.

Providing parent to parent emotional support, the group meets the second Monday of every month from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Professional Building at 115 W. Valentine. Parents interested in attending can call or text Powell at 406-861-6880 or can just come to a meeting, she said.

“I’m not a counsellor,” she explained. “I’m just a parent who lost a baby.”

The isolation of not knowing anyone who had experienced the loss she felt after Carter’s death was really hard. When a contact from the Rainbow support group in Billings contacted her, it felt like a real lifeline. For the first six months, she attended each monthly meeting, she said.

Finding others who knew what she was experiencing, could understand her grief and allow her to talk about Carter was exactly what she needed. Over time, her need for the support group lessened, but she still maintains contact with Rainbow members and attends an annual picnic the support group sponsors.

“It is just nice to have a place to talk about Carter,” she said.

Carter was born three months early. The first few weeks he seemed to be doing well, but when he developed a sudden illness, he wasn’t strong enough to resist it and went quickly. While it was an intense time, she treasures those first three weeks with him.

“It was a good three weeks,” she said. “I knew in the back of my mind it could happen, but you never expect it to happen to you.”

Losing Carter was not something Powell has been able to move on from, but she has learned how to keep living. He is on her mind every day, but now the grief is not quite as sharp, she said.

Anyone who has experienced a pregnancy loss, early or late, a still birth or infant loss is welcome to attend the support group. Powell hopes it will be a good place for people to come, tell their stories, talk about their babies and find others who have walked where they are walking, she said.

Everyone’s story is different, but those who share the pain of losing a baby can honestly say, “I get it. I understand. I’m here for you,” she said, adding, “That’s invaluable.”

When Powell discovered the Rainbow support group and experienced the help she received from it, she knew in the back of her mind she wanted to make something like that happen in Glendive. It’s taken a few years. Carter died in February 2015. But Powell is ready to move forward with it now and hopes Heart Prints can provide the same support she received.

“There is no footprint too small that it cannot leave an imprint on our hearts,” is the quote she chose for a brochure about the support group. It reflects the respect with which the group treats everybody’s story. Every baby lost is precious and every story is valued, she said.

Reach Cindy Mullet at crmullet@midrivers.com.

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