Empty Arms' Support Groups for Grieving Parents
We offer four ongoing support groups monthly. Click through for individual descriptions, or scroll below to read about our general philosophy and have your questions (hopefully) answered.
We also offer three additional groups that meet with varying frequency:
Loss of One Twin Support Group
Empty Arms Support Groups
Regardless of where they draw their support, people who are involved with our organization are confirmed in the value of what they have lost and are given the freedom to grieve and heal at their own pace, using their own strength of character as well as the bonds of friendship as their tools.
At this point, all of our groups are held in Florence, MA, near Northampton. This is because we serve individuals and families from Connecticut to Vermont, and Northampton is halfway up the valley and on I-91. It is our hope to be able to offer a variety of geographic locations in the future, but we simply don't have the resources to do that yet. If you need help getting to a meeting, please let us know. We often arrange car pools or can sometimes even come and pick you up.
Frequently Asked Questions About Our Support Groups
Q: Do I need to RSVP?
A: Our Miscarriage Group and Bereavement Group are free and drop-in-- the groups run regularly, and facilitators are ready and waiting no matter what. That being said, do check the calendar and make sure the group is on the night you think it is!
We know how easy it is to change your mind at the last minute and come to a group you thought you couldn't (or didn't want to) make it to. That being said, if you do know for sure that you're coming, please do feel free to drop the facilitator a note so we can welcome you personally and/or meet you at the door if you'd prefer.
Our Subsequent Choices support group runs in cycles, and the dates and times change depending on the makeup and availability of the group members. If you're interested in this group, please drop us an email and we'll fill you in on the details of the where and when. It's important to let us know if you're coming even if the group is on the calendar- we do sometimes cancel groups if there isn't anticipated attendance.
Q: I'm too nervous just to show up to a meeting! Is that … strange?
A: No, you're certainly in good company. We know how incredibly difficult it can be to seek the help we need at such a sad, vulnerable time. To make showing up easier, we welcome emails or phone calls before you attend a meeting to talk about what to expect, which might make coming to that first meeting a little less intimidating. We can also meet you at the door, walk you in, and introduce you around. We’re friendly folks!
Q: I can't talk about my experience without crying. Will I be the only one?
A: Not at all. We know that no matter how far out you are from your loss, talking about your experience can bring up strong emotions. And all emotions are welcome at our meetings. (We bring lots of tissues.) If you feel too overwhelmed to speak, you are always welcome to just listen to others until you are ready to share.
Q: Can I come alone? Do I have to bring my partner?
A: You're welcome to come with anyone you choose, or no one at all. If you're anxious about whether to bring someone or not, give us a call and we can give you a general sense of the current make up of our group. It's sometimes so much easier to make a decision when you have more information.
To preserve the quietude of our space, we ask that children stay home.
Q: I want my partner to come, but I don't know if he or she will want to speak. Is that OK?
A: Absolutely. Participation in the discussion is always optional. We know that even when participants don't contribute to the conversation, they still may be receiving the support they need.
Q: Are these support groups a form of therapy?
A: As supportive as participants tell us these meetings are, our bereavement support groups are not therapy, and should not necessarily be used in place of therapy. We use the MotherWoman model of facilitation for our support groups: This creates an advice-free, judgement-free space in which you can share whatever experiences and emotions are true for you following your loss.
We do maintain a list of therapists and other health providers.
Q: My family and friends don't know about my loss…
A: Strict confidentiality is expected from all group members. Included in our guidelines is a rule of confidentiality that asks that even if group members see one another outside of group, it's not appropriate to reference anything shared in group unless both parties agree. Your personal contact information will only be shared with other group members if you specifically elect to have it shared.
Q: My pregnancy ended with a medical termination. Can Empty Arms help me?
A: Yes. As with every family who experiences loss, we'll work with you to find support that works best for your unique situation. In the past we've supported many families who have been forced to make the same terrible decision you have- check out our Termination for Medical Reasons Support Group.
Q: Do you provide childcare or transportation assistance for your support group meetings?
A: If you need assistance with childcare or transportation, please contact us. We will try our best to help you to be able to come to a meeting and find the support you need.