WOW! I can’t even believe I am writing this post. It seems so surreal. During some of deepest, darkest days following the loss of Gus, I was banished from a group. Let me provide a bit of background before diving in.
I began my bereavement support journey after suffering a miscarriage in 2010. I have published several books in that time, speak at events and hospitals, and teach other birth professionals how to support families through pregnancy loss.
I never thought I would experience another pregnancy loss. Mostly because I didn’t think I would want another child, especially at my age. So needless to say, when I learned my baby no longer had a heartbeat, I needed a bereavement doula. I needed support from more than just my family.
I felt more prepared than ever to work through my loss. I knew ALL my options (after all, I wrote the book on that), and I knew how to advocate for myself but when my husband was unavailable for an important appointment, I didn’t want to experience that alone. I didn’t know who I could invite into that space with me. When I found the right person, I still struggled to let her in but she did amazing and was there as I needed her on that particular day.
Grief doesn’t last one day though. Even though I have a wonderful support network of bereavement doulas, fellow loss mothers, and friends, today, I wanted some anonymity. I turned to a support network I have been following for well over a year but never really posted in. Again, I never thought I would need to.
I became shocked when I turned to that support group and was quickly banned after revealing who I was. Maybe the admin was threatened by me? Maybe she felt I was advertising somehow? She has refused to respond to my private messages so I don’t know why she deleted my post and banned me when I needed support the most so here I am, revealing private messages in hopes someone will reach out and explain.
But before I reveal anything, please understand, I am a grieving mother. My baby has died and I miss that child. I miss all that we will never do together. I miss the child I never met. I held space for this child, prayed for this child, nurtured this child, loved this child, dreamed of this child, and I will never hold this child on Earth. That’s difficult to swallow.
The question I asked in the group was, “Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.” Did anyone TRULY find this statement helpful during your loss?”
I received a bunch of responses. Some said it was helpful, most said it was not. Some were in the same boat I was in, unable to let someone in and tell them what they could do. By mid-afternoon, I received a response from an admin of the group (Sheri Bright Timmers); most likely, the owner of the group. Her response was judgmental and berating. I was shocked to be talked to so negatively about what I was feeling.
With who I am and what I do for loss families, I had to provide some background information about me. I had hoped she would be a bit empathetic but instead, BANISHED!
I was blown-away. I was seeking support from a large group of loss families during my time of need and I was banished for unknown reasons. I couldn’t even fathom why I had been banished. I asked friends for help on this situation and received a multitude of reasons including, “some groups don’t let doulas, midwives in,” and that one hurt the most.
Where does a doula go then, if she needs support during her pregnancy loss? Why must she be looked at like an enemy or having a secondary agenda than any other loss mother? I didn’t want to turn to my regular doula groups for help. I just wanted to be like any other loss mother seeking help from other loss mothers.
I heard other complaints about this group, the admin, and how the bereavement wars is still alive and hurting women and families. It physically pains my heart to think that women can be so evil to each other during loss. Vying for attention, to be number one, to be the ONLY one out there that can provide the support. It’s sad, disgusting and will be our demise.
I have seen these “fights” between other groups. One group posts, “don’t support ______ group.” And the other group posts, “don’t link to ______ group.” Then another, “don’t trust _____ group/organization.” And it just goes on and on. Do we really think we are helping those who need us the most? And now, when I need someone outside my normal groups, I can’t ask, because of my profession?
THIS WAR HAS TO STOP!
I sent a private message to thirteen admins in that group. Only one responded, the others left the conversation. It wasn’t until the next morning after I received screen shots about my banishment did I begin to receive a private answer. It all boiled down to…ADVERTISEMENT.
Seriously? In 2012, after my book All That is Seen and Unseen was published, I posted it in the group. I always check group rules before posting about my book so I wouldn’t been seen as a spammer. I never was never banned from the group for those two posts and they were still there as of May 17, 2015 at 11:30am. Then there were no other posts in the group from me. Why?
Because I became pregnant. I stopped following the group because I couldn’t bear to see all the pain from miscarriage and stillbirth during my own pregnancy. I stopped following a bunch of groups because I needed to focus on positive energy during my pregnancy and reduce the anxiety I was already feeling. 2012 passes to 2013 and my son is born.
In 2014, I slowly began to re-follow boards to offer support, it wasn’t until my loss this year that I began searching for other groups where I could express my grief and look for support. The Miscarriage & Pregnancy Loss group had over 5,000 members. I knew I could find support there, so I reached out.
Then the admin responded so negatively during my hurt that I revealed who I was and that was taken as advertising. So Sheri, you really think that I just hung out in your group for three years just to advertise without posting links or anything? Seriously? I am just a little over a week into my grief and I go post in your group to make money? I make no money. I give away more books than I sell. I am here to help women, not berate them and destroy them in their grief.
Two admins said they “knew I was there to advertise.” They felt my post was merely a ploy. I am sorry, I don’t do this but if it helps you sleep at night to feel that I was advertising and not a grieving mother looking for support, so be it. I will take my grief elsewhere.