There is little (if anything) worse than losing a child. If you have ever been through this experience, you’ve probably found there aren’t many people who understand the deep grief you feel.
Unfortunately, the need for this special kind of grief support is great in the state of Alabama. There has been an increase in pregnancy and infant deaths over the last few years and Alabama is now one of the leading states for infant death, surpassed only by Mississippi. There are no government funds available to support bereaved families who need to make final arrangements for their baby, or ongoing support to rebuild their lives.
The Alabama Chapter of the TEARS Foundation helps with that. This active group assists many families with funeral services, hosts memorial gatherings remembering Alabama babies, and holds its annual Alabama Rock & Walk gathering for the community and bereaved families to walk and raise funds together in honor of their child to help future families with their expenses.
Ruthe Myers and Jennifer West are the Alabama Chapter of TEARS Chapter Leaders. Both women and their families have experienced infant loss, and now they have made it their mission to help others through it. Recently, they told us more about their support groups and upcoming events & activities.
Alabama TEARS Foundation
The TEARS Foundation is a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization which seeks to compassionately assist newly bereaved families who have lost an infant or child by providing financial support for funeral expenses. We believe that every baby’s life deserves to be honored and memorialized according to the grieving parents wishes, and we are committed to helping families with this experience. We also believe that every grieving parent deserves ongoing bereavement care, therefore we offer comprehensive on going bereavement services in the form of support groups and trained peer companions.
Local Support Groups for Grieving Families & Friends
Alabama TEARS offers four support groups that meet regularly:
- Pregnancy & Child Loss Support Group
- Friends in Loss Support Group
- Peer Companions
- Pregnancy & Parenting After Loss (coming later this Fall)
These support groups are for parents and family members that have experienced the loss of a child. Miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS, younger or older children, all losses are welcome.
How often do you meet?
We meet once a month per each type of support group. Pregnancy and Child Loss Support Group, typically meets the first Tuesday of the month at 6:30pm on Zoom. Friends in Loss typically meets the third Sunday of the month. Online and in person meeting locations vary as we look for a regular meeting space and adjust for current COVID guidelines. Peer Companions are one-on one-support based on an individual’s need at that time.
What goes on in a typical group meeting?
The Pregnancy and Child support group is more structured and offers emotional support to those whose child has passed through pregnant loss, stillbirth, infant loss, and child loss. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and loved ones are all welcome. Topics vary each month. The floor is always open for attendees to share or just listen and observe.
Friends in Loss Support Group is very informal and offers emotional support to anyone who has been affected by the death of a child, not just family members. The conversation is free flowing, with no set topic.
Do you participate in other group outings or events?
Typically, we try to have an event 2-3 times a year. Our biggest event is our annual Rock&Walk, coming up October 28th. We always have an event to participate in Wave of Light, a commemoration of Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day. In May, for International Bereaved Mother’s Day we also get together – one of the hardest days for many women around the world is Mother’s Day.
We periodically meet in groups for social dinners, though this has currently been on hold during the pandemic.
What sets TEARS apart from other area grief programs?
TEARS support groups are peer-lead by those who have been through a similar journey. We come alongside families in however they need emotional support. While most of our events are in the Huntsville area, we help families throughout the whole state of Alabama.
How can people get involved?
If you have been through a loss and want support, you are always welcome to reach out to us. We are also working on building a committee of volunteers to help at events and in various areas. We have training through our National TEARS Foundation office, if you ever want to become a peer companion to others. You do not have to be a bereaved parent to partake as a volunteer, just someone with a compassionate heart for helping.
We also accept small blankets for our care pages, if anyone who likes to sew, knit, or crochet and needs a project.
We have an Amazon wish list for our Alabama chapter, to help us build our care packages for parents.
Alabama TEARS Foundation Details
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Rocket City Mom is a website about raising children in and around Huntsville, Alabama. Started in late 2010 by a local mom and newcomer to Huntsville, Rocket City Mom has grown into a thriving community of local parents and now boasts a staff of four, thirteen regular contributors, and tens of thousands of Tennessee Valley readers making it the #1 Parenting Resource in North Alabama.