“Child loss is not an event;
it is an indescribable journey of survival.”
The loss of a loved one is never easy to deal with, and when the loss is a life that has only just begun, the pain and sorrow can be overwhelming. Family and friends offer their comfort and condolences, but more often than not, their well-intentioned reassurances barely scrape the surface.
The loss of a child is unbearable and, in some ways, isolating, but that does not mean parents have to face their grief alone. For those who have suffered such a tragic and untimely loss, a new chapter of Greenbrier County’s Angel Talk community has come to Pocahontas County.
Led by Michelle Hall, of Minnehaha Springs, Angel Talk is a support group organized by mothers and parents who have suffered a loss at any stage during pregnancy and beyond and either want to help others or are in need of help themselves.
“I moved to the area three years ago following the loss of my own son,” Hall explained. “I saw an ad in the paper for the Angel Talk group in Lewisburg, and I’ve been attending since day one. Recently, I’ve heard others in the county express their desire for something similar closer to home, so I wanted to try and bring Angel Talk here.”
The Pocahontas County group meets once a month, and it is a place where parents can come to cry, talk and get mad.
“It’s a place for people to come and vent,” Hall explained. “I don’t think you ever really get over your loss. Ever since I lost my son, I’ve been angry. I’ve been very angry about it, but I’m constantly learning how to deal with it – and in learning, I’m able to help others. In this group, we’re able to talk to one another about it and realize that somebody else, unfortunately, understands.”
Hall suffered the loss of her son, Caleb, in August 2012 following a miscarriage five months into her pregnancy. Earlier in the pregnancy, Hall’s son had been diagnosed with a lower urinary tract obstruction known as Posterior Urethral Valve disorder, and surgery was scheduled to place a shunt to help with the issue.
Hall arrived at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and received an ultrasound to check the condition of her son’s disorder. The ultrasound was clear, and the surgery was set to take place the next day. However, when Hall arrived the following morning, a second ultrasound revealed bladder and kidney failure.
“You’d be surprised how you get treated after you’ve suffered a loss,” Hall said. “Sometimes, people who haven’t experienced this kind of loss are uncomfortable talking about it, but we want to talk about our children. It makes people very uncomfortable, but that’s something everyone – myself including – is learning to get over. I’m sorry if it makes you uncomfortable, but it makes me feel good to talk about Caleb. That’s why Ruth [Caruthers] and Jenifer [Richmond] started Angel Talk.”
In addition to monthly meetings, the women of Angel Talk host a number of events throughout the year, and each event leads up to the organization’s biggest celebration of the year: a celebration of life held every September in remembrance of the babies who have died.
The pregnancy, infant and child loss support group was founded in 2013 by Greenbrier County residents Ruth Caruthers and Jenifer Richmond. Following the deaths of their sons in 2011, Caruthers and Richmond met by chance and, after talking, realized that there was a lack of support groups in the county at the time.
“People don’t feel as though they can talk about their losses” Caruthers added. “and there are people who really hold it in for decades. It’s not healthy, and so we want people to know that it’s okay to talk about it – that it’s okay if you’re feeling bad or mad. That’s the biggest part of it – letting people know that we’re here; that we understand; and most importantly, that it’s okay to grieve.”
Pocahontas County Angel Talk meets the first Wednesday of every month from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Family Resource Network, 821 Third Avenue in Marlinton. For more information, call Michelle Hall at 304-799-4160; visit the Facebook page at Angel Talk- Pocahontas. County; or check out Angel Talk’s website at www.angeltalkgroup.com.
Cailey Moore may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org