Dora Edings’ life changed forever in December 1977, when a car accident took the life of her 6-year-old daughter Angie. Now 30 years later, Edings hopes to offer support and comfort to other mothers who have lost children. In August, she brought her support group, Mothers of Angels, onto the Internet so mothers around the country can share their grief.
"I started it because of my own loss," Edings says. "I needed to talk to other women who had been where I was, and I didn’t have that. It was almost 19 years before I could talk to anybody about her, before I could finally start healing."
Edings started Mothers of Angels nine years ago, after meeting other women in her Jonesboro, Ark., community who had endured similar losses. The group of about 10 continues to meet monthly. With the Web site, they reach about 130 other women at different locations.
The site, www.mothersofangels.org, offers advice to family and friends, hosts discussion forums, features photographs of "angels," and includes monthly newsletters for its members. The organization also provides free grave markers and hospital memory boxes—sets of hand-crocheted blankets, hats and booties—for mothers who lose their babies at birth.
Patricia Vaci, a registered nurse in Downers Grove, facilitates a support group for couples who lose babies and says many in the group also participate in online discussions. "They can do it from their homes at a time that fits their schedules," Vaci says. "There’s so much anonymity [online], they can be totally frank and candid."
Vaci says support groups are empowering and important for validating feelings of loss. "People in those groups truly understand each other’s pain," she says. "It breaks up the isolation and affirms the normalcy of what they’re feeling."
Every time she talks about her child, Edings relives the pain of losing her, but now she says the pain comes with peace. "You don’t get over it, but you learn to live with your grief and loss," she says. "I still miss my little girl, but now I have good memories. And something good has come out of losing my daughter."