On June 8th, 2017, nineteen and half months ago, our family huddled on the floor of a small office of an EMS facility outside of Atlanta, Georgia. We held one another as we cried out to God in desperation for Him to carry us through the incomprehensible pain that had just befallen us. We pled with Him to allow us to see Him bring redemption from the pain, believing His promise to use all things for the good of those who love Him.
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to [His] purpose.” Romans 8:28 [NASB]
Shortly after we prayed, as Scott was still holding me in that same little room, he quietly said, “You know God is going to call us to walk alongside other parents going through this.” Though I believed him in that moment, neither of us had any idea how exactly that call would most effectively be fulfilled.
We were introduced to the wonderful ministry of While We’re Waiting through receiving one of their Hope packages. Scott immediately joined their Facebook group for bereaved parents and found it helpful to read and interact there. He would share things he thought I would find encouraging or helpful and I eventually joined as well.
Scott and I began to feel a more specific calling to start a support group for bereaved parents around eight months after Sarah left, but we did not have a clear vision for how or when to do it. In the meantime, through the ministry of While We’re Waiting I was able to connect with multiple kindred spirit bereaved moms who became a tremendous support, continually dispensing wisdom, truth and grace from God’s Word. Among them was Jill Sullivan.
Prayer, time and fellowship with those moms provided some clarity to believe the Lord was likely leading us to form a While We’re Waiting support group. September 7-9, 2018, we attended a While We’re Waiting Bereaved Parents’ Weekend Retreat. After spending the weekend with Brad and Jill Sullivan, and Larry and Janice Brown, and hearing them share their hearts as well as God’s hand in the ministry of While We’re Waiting, we knew God was indeed calling us to partner with them in bringing a While We’re Waiting Support Group to Alabama.
The North Alabama While We’re Waiting Support Group launched on January 3rd, 2019, at Mount Zion Baptist Church. It is a monthly support group, meeting on the first Thursday of most months from 6:00-8:00 PM. We abide by the leadership guidelines set for all While We’re Waiting Support Groups by the While We’re Waiting board of directors.
Neither Scott nor I have any training in grief counseling, and attending North Alabama While We’re Waiting Support Group meetings should not be viewed as a substitute for professional counseling. We are just parents journeying through the dark valley of child loss and desiring to allow Him to fulfill His promise to redeem our pain by comforting others with the comfort we have been given.
“Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 [NASB]
We recognize and celebrate the formation of the North Alabama While We’re Waiting Support Group as one of many answers to our prayers for God to use the devastation of June 8th, 2017, for our good and His glory.
We pray the North Alabama While We’re Waiting Support Group will be a place where bereaved parents are able to feel understood and encouraged by one another. We pray that our meetings will be characterized by times of quietly weeping with those who weep, as well as consistently comforting one another with the comfort we have been given. We pray that we will become a community of bereaved parents committed to carrying one another’s burdens in prayer and support as we seek to live hopefully, fruitfully and joyously “while we’re waiting.”
If you are a parent who knows the pain of child loss we invite you to join us. If not, we ask you to join us in praying for the North Alabama While We’re Waiting Support Group, that we will together lift high the Name and Hope of Christ as a bright light in the midst of the darkest valley.