Welcome to Sanctuary Counseling Group
Sanctuary (n): from the Latin sanctus or holy; 1) a sacred or holy place; 2) a place of refuge or safety, a haven; 3) shelter from danger, hardship, or threat.
Sanctuary Counseling Group—formerly known as Methodist Counseling and Consultation Services—has provided mental health counseling and pastoral counseling in the greater Charlotte area and in satellite offices in cities and towns around the western piedmont of North Carolina for over 50 years. To learn more about us and the kinds of services we provide, or to find out how to make an appointment with a therapist in your geographical area, feel free to contact us. We would love to hear from you.
Coping With Infant Loss
The loss of a loved one is difficult, but the loss of a young child or infant can be tragic. I remember my great grandmother, who lost 4 of her adult children before she died at 101, telling me after the funeral of my aunt that losing a child is the worst thing ever. It is tough to image the loss of a child. Parents who lose an infant or young child can feel like their world is caving in on them.
Parents see their future dreams vanish before their eyes. It is like they are grasping at smoke. The pain is real as the struggle with not knowing an infant or young child. Often people are dismissive of the experience because they do not understand the significance of loss to those parents. In many ways, the fact that the child was unknown makes the situation worse because there are little to no memories to help with the grief. They lost the time to get to know the child or experience all the things that are normal—first steps, first words, first day of school.
After working with many parents in such situations it has become obvious that we all grieve differently. It is especially important for Moms and Dads to accept that they will not respond the same way and there should be no expectations. They need to be accepting of how each person grieves. Remember everyone goes about this process at a different pace. There is no rush; take your time to experience everything you can. Parents should show patience and listen to each other; paying attention to the little things that can draw you together.
Work to build memories that will help you authenticate the loss of life by doing all the normal things that one would do with an infant or baby. Take lots of pictures; you may not want to see them any time soon but they will be important to you. Pick out special clothes and dress your baby if you want; it's up to you. Keep hand and foot prints that can bring back sweet memories. Buy a special memory box for all your keepsakes or even better yet make one yourself. Do not let anyone rush you through the process.
Seek help when necessary in order to work through the grief process. This may mean finding a support group; it is important to realize you are not alone. It is hard during these times to normalize many of the thoughts and emotions that come up so being with others can make it feel more ordinary. Use an individual or couples counselor if you need more direct help in managing the grief. This can be especially helpful several months after the loss when those around you are getting on with life.
One final recommendation: focus on the good things—a special visit by a friend, a card, a healthcare worker going beyond the call, a unique gift, and times that make you laugh; and you should laugh a lot. Surround yourself with people that make you feel good and realize this all takes time.
Jay Cobb, MA
Resources for Pastors
Sanctuary Counseling Group recognizes the unique needs and stressors of pastors working within the pastorate as well as the needs of the pastoral family. To this end we offer a number of resources specifically for clergy
Check out the clergy resources page, including educational and workshop opportunities, counseling and consultation, vocational assessment, and helpful readings. Feel free to contact an SCG therapist in your geographical area for further information. As persons trained in both theology and mental health counseling—and with a high standard of confidentiality—SCG therapists are in a unique position to serve the needs of parish clergy and their families.
"Self-care is never a selfish act—it is simply
good stewardship of the only gift I have,
the gift I was put on earth to offer to others."