A new resource to assist mothers, fathers, grandparents and families come to terms with their grief after the loss of a child is now on island.
The first meeting of “In Our Heart – Cayman” took place at the Cayman Islands Baptist Church on Pedro Castle Road Monday evening.
Dr. Annette Stephenson, facilitator and co-founder of the group started the resource after losing her baby triplets in 2017. She wanted to share her grief and yearned for someone to talk to.
“What I got was not enough. Books were not helping and what was missing was a need for connection,” she said. This happens a lot with pregnancy loss, stillbirth, termination and miscarriage, she explained, as families experience a deep mourning and have nowhere to turn.
“They often don’t talk about their baby because they are afraid of having a conversation that will have them be emotional, and people don’t reach out to the parents for fear of making them cry. Eventually, the experience is somewhat pushed under the rug and people try to forget and move on.”
She said those who have lost a baby perpetually yearn for an acknowledgement of their loss and try desperately to deal with their emotions. This leads to disconnection, isolation and a sense of despair. She said women may have anxiety about the future or current pregnancies.
In her search to find some type of support or community on island, earlier this year she connected with Michelle Tyliakos, a doula who used to live in Cayman. They started sharing their experiences with miscarriage and pregnancy loss, at which time Ms. Tylialkos mentioned that she had started a support group in her community in Vancouver called In Our Hearts.
This lay the foundation for the establishment of the first international chapter of In Our Hearts. Dr. Stephenson described In Our Hearts as a safe space with monthly meetings for women, partners and support people to gather, share their experiences and learn of resources in the community.
“It is simply a place for people to cry or let out their emotions and talk about their grief,” she said. “It is a place for acknowledgment and gratitude. It is a non-judgemental room allowing people to be fully expressed in grief. It’s to hold the space, not to fix anything, but to make room for a woman and families to voice what is needed.”
Because of a small turnout at the group’s first meeting Monday, going forward Ms. Stephenson said she will have suggestions on time, location and how to promote and bring more awareness of the meeting. She will also look at inviting a counselor for processing grief and a nutritionist to talk on how to eat to heal the body.