Free to Grieve support group members, from left, Susan Murphy, Tracy Richard, Nancy Williams, Tony Clements and Sheri Pridham discuss the common tie that brings them all together. The group is for parents and grandparents who are grieving the loss of a child or grandchild. It meets every other Thursday night, 6:30 to 8:30, at Alberton Town Hall. The next meeting is January 30.
Eric McCarthy/Journal Pioneer
ALBERTON -- There’s no time limit on grief, says Sherri Pridham, founder of a new support group in West Prince. It’s called Free to Grieve and is for parents and grandparents who are grieving the death of a child or grandchild.
“For some of us,” said Pridham “it has been one year and others in our group, it’s been a lot longer. It doesn’t matter how long. You never get over a child’s death.”
“It’s been 24 years for us,” she said, referring to the grief she and her husband experience over the loss of their infant daughter. “Some people think we should be done grieving. It doesn’t work like that, and I think everybody else (here) feels pretty much the same.”
Everybody handles grief and loss in a different way, Pridham acknowledges.“ The way I handled it, I held it all in, for 24 years.”
It was in September, when the Pridhams’ next daughter was about to head off to university that she took action. “I said, ‘I can’t do this anymore; it’s time.’ So, here I am, and here they are.” It was with the knowledge that others in the area were also grieving the loss of a child or grandchild that she decided to start a support group. She started by sharing some of her thoughts on Facebook and the group took off from there. She wasn’t sure if anyone would even show up that first night. Five people did. They’ve had as many as nine at meetings since then, and members continue to join.
“It took me 24 years to get to this point that I am able to come to this group and I am able to share,” she said. “It’s been very helpful for me. The first night, I came in with a big load on my shoulders, and I went out feeling light”
“I was in turmoil,“ admitted a new group member, “really, not wanting to come but wanting to come. And, after I left I couldn’t wait for the next meeting. It is a big relief to be in the same room with everybody, feeling the same things.”
The group meets every other Thursday, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Alberton Town Hall. The next meeting is January 30 and new members are welcome.
Tony Clements lost a son three years ago. Last spring he started a Facebook page for parents who had lost a child. It is a closed group, currently with 88 members from around the world, with much sharing of thoughts among group members. He also welcomed the opportunity to join the new support group for the understanding provided there.
“You know everybody else has that pain but maybe in a different way,” Nancy Williams said of the connection between support group members.
The support group does not have a set structure. “It just works for us,’ insisted group member Susan Murphy. Guest speakers will be arranged for meetings from time to time.
“We all talk about it,“ Pridham said in discussing the grieving and loss. “We can grieve together. I know that they’re feeling what I’m feeling. We just bond.”
“It’s very lonely to have lost a child,“ Murphy expressed. “For years, it was very, very lonely for me. I didn’t think anybody could ever understand. To come into this room and say your feelings and everybody acknowledges exactly what you’re feeling. It was amazing for me.”