It has often happened to me that people, even colleagues, have asked me how I can work peacefully with mourners. Faced with this question, a mental box opens up to me, like a comic, and I ask myself: why can we really think that we can eliminate “the topic of death” from our lives?
Death is scary, oh yes what does it do! He is so frightening that even at the faculty of psychology the best that can be done is to dedicate a couple of hours to him at the end of the clinical psychophysiology course. And if we talk about perinatal death, we risk finding our interlocutors in a tree or behind a bush or never finding them again because they ran away. And if we think that there is not even a name to call mourning parents and that in Italy the statistics speak of about 2500 families every year, we begin to realize the extent of the situation.
My experience as a psychologist facilitator of a self-help group for bereaved parents according to the CiaoLapo model
I learned that there was an association that dealt with perinatal bereavement about four years ago, the same period when I more or less realized that in my training there was a hole this big, a chasm that scared me but that I could not ignore. beyond.
With CiaoLapo I met Dr. Ravaldi who proposed me, with the necessary training, to collaborate with her in facilitating self-help groups for bereaved parents.
Of course it wasn’t easy at first, I couldn’t see anything but tears and pain. The stories I heard were so full of suffering, but also of love and life. Oh yes … in those groups there was life !
A life that started again from a different point, with different presuppositions and with a new awareness, that of someone who has gone through unimaginable pain and who is unimaginably returning to life.
At first I often wondered if it was really possible to continue living after losing a child, a child that by many (too many!) People was considered just a bad experience to remove.
And I realized that was just the point, the point of view that could allow people to start over or anchor them forever to a bad experience awkwardly hidden in a corner of memory. Before becoming a grieving parent, one must become a parent .
I met many parents who discovered themselves as such thanks to the Self Help groups, at first with fear and then with more and more pride until I proudly say: “I am the mother or father of my son, a child who died too soon . “
In the group they found acceptance, respect, trust and the possibility of sharing pains and joys that “in the real world” had not been possible to express.
The group’s goal is never to move away from the “real world” to surround themselves only with other mourners “because only they can understand”, but rather to be enriched with an awareness that no longer makes bereaved parents fearful and scary , but simply the parents of someone who has been there and whom they love and have loved.
The comparison with other parents works as a mirror that allows you to see, know or disown the reactions, emotions and feelings seen in others and to face them supported by a facilitator and a group of people who welcome without judging and who can be felt free to lean on without weighing.
Over time, not a time defined a priori, parents find the right place for their love and pain , a space that allows them to remember and love that child again and at the same time to continue living. This is for me the elaboration of mourning, finding a time and a way to keep important memories.
In this, the group is a precious tool, a shared space in which to face the roller coaster together with someone who understands, welcomes and guides having or having been on the same ride.
I conclude with two important testimonies of two couples of parents who have attended for a year and a half, the group that I facilitate, and who have now decided to continue, taking up their words, walking alone.
Carmen and Stefano:
(…) and then I read a post where ke P had written: after the loss of A. we had the healthiest true and loving laughs in the group, and so we started hanging out with the group, because we needed so much laugh again. And we also needed so much to tell about our dark or quieter days, remember our daughters and know that we would be listened to and understood. And slowly shoving, listening and crying we began to hope and laugh again. We will miss our group, but we know that we are calmer and that we can continue our journey alone
Michele and Ilaria:
What was the AMA CiaoLapo group for us?
It was a sail on calm days and a lifesaver on stormy days.
It was a circle of respect, listening and sharing.
It was the oak under which we understood that silence matters as much as the word.
They were the stones of a path otherwise rich only in mud and brambles.
It was the canvas on which we painted a large picture.
But above all it was the treasure chest of our children’s memories
that by making them “alive” gave them importance, value and uniqueness.
Dr. Letizia Giorgini, voluntary psychologist Ass. CiaoLapo onlus