Monday, January 7, 2013

Tell About It Tuesday -- Introducing the While We're Waiting Bereaved Parent Support Group

You never know what sending an email might lead to.  You know what I mean -- when you feel like God is prompting you to do something -- like make a call, write a note, give a gift, cook a meal, or even just to send an email.  It's so easy to say, "I'm just too busy", or "I'll do that tomorrow", or "Somebody else will do that." Believe me, I've made those kinds of excuses many, many times.

I'm so glad my friend Joan obeyed that prompting the other day.  She sent me an email about one of my recent blog posts that contained some encouraging words for me.  I read it right before I got on the treadmill for my morning walk.  I always read while I'm on my treadmill, but on this particular morning, I couldn't focus on my book.  Her words just kept coming back to me.

And God used those few words to kick-start a whole new area of ministry for While We're Waiting.  For some time now, the WWW board has been mulling over the idea of starting a support group for bereaved parents.  But as much as we've discussed it, we just hadn't been able to pull the trigger to get it started.  There were so many questions.  How often would we meet?  Where would we meet?  What would we discuss at our meetings?  Who would come?  And most of all ... How could we possibly find even one night a month that we would have available to consistently meet with my husband's hectic schedule as a high school principal?

But as I walked that morning with my friend's encouraging words running through my mind ... it all started to become clear.  We could do this!  We could meet on Wednesday nights ... Duh!  That's the one night a week that a principal has no responsibilities ... well, unless there's a basketball tournament or something.  I guess I should say he rarely has responsibilities on Wednesday nights.  And to keep people from missing their own church services every Wednesday night, we'd meet just once a month.  And since our home church (Hot Springs Baptist Church) has prayer meeting on Wednesday night and is already open, what more logical place for our meetings?  Who would come?  Why, anyone within driving distance of Hot Springs who has lost a child, whether they've attended any other While We're Waiting events or not.  There are even children and youth activities available if they want to bring their children along.  And as for what we will discuss ... Each meeting will be based around a particular Scripture passage and will address a specific topic faced by grieving parents.  Some of the material may come directly from this blog.  In that one-hour walk on the treadmill, every single question was somehow answered.

As with all of our While We're Waiting events, our goal at these meetings will be to point grieving parents to our only true source of comfort, Jesus Christ.  Although our topics of discussion may be painful, and tears will be inevitable, our desire will be to honor God by seeking how we can live well while we're waiting to be reunited with our children some day.

The support group will be facilitated by my husband and I, along with Larry and Janice Brown, the co-founders of While We're Waiting.  I should say here that none of us has any training in grief counseling, and attending this group should not be viewed as a substitute for professional counseling.  We are just parents who are walking this road of grief, a few years ahead of some folks, and decades behind others.  That's why I use the term facilitating ... We will all be learning from each other.

The formation of this group in Hot Springs is actually just the first step in what we believe is a God-given dream.  Our dream is that one day, there will be While We're Waiting "chapters" hosting similar support groups all around the state of Arkansas ... and maybe even someday around the nation.  To my knowledge, there is no nationwide faith-based support group just for parents who have lost children.  God willing, we would love for While We're Waiting to fill that gaping hole.

So ... When are we going to start?  Soon.  This month, in fact.  The While We're Waiting Support Group will meet on the last Wednesday night of every month, starting in January.

The first meeting of the While We're Waiting Support Group will be January 30th, from 6:00-8:00 p.m., at Hot Springs Baptist Church located at 144 Weston Road in Hot Springs.  Anyone who has lost a child is welcome to come.  You are welcome if your child has been in Heaven for thirty days or for thirty years.  You are welcome if your child was stillborn and never took a single breath, or if your child lived to be an adult and had a family of his or her own.  Come, knowing you will be surrounded by people who care, who understand, and who will pray for you.  This will be a safe place, a place where we can discuss our struggles knowing we will not be judged, because every one of us has been there at one time or another.  We will also share our victories, and rejoice with each other as we move along the road toward healing.

I can't wait to get started.

You never know what sending an email might lead to.


Kelle Patterson said...


Again.. I think it is a WONDERFUL thing you and your husband (and the other couple) do! And ... Thank You for sharing "Hannah's Storm".


Kelle Patterson

Jill Sullivan said...

Thank YOU, Kelle, for always being such an encouragement to me! :)