Pieta helps parents navigate grief


By Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer

Hudson/Marlborough – Under normal circumstances, preparing for the holidays can be stressful and tiring. For parents who have lost a child, the pain of loss is felt most poignantly during this time. Because the parent-child relationship is physically, socially and psychologically unique, the loss of a child is devastating for a parent – at any age or stage of life. No one knows this better than the members of Pieta, an ongoing support group for bereaved parents.

“The goal of Pieta is to help with the healing from the pain that is so overwhelming after the death of a son or daughter. The grief journey is long and difficult. Everyone grieves differently and for some is longer than it is for others,” said facilitator of the group, Catherine Russell.

Russell, who has lost two sons – one from leukemia and one from an undetected heart problem – knows well the pain of losing a child.

Locally, Pieta meets on the first Monday of every month at 7 p.m. in the chapel room at St. Michael Parish, 20 High St., in Hudson. The group welcomes anyone who has experienced the death of a child, offering support, compassion, understanding, and hope in a safe, nonjudgmental atmosphere. Regardless of how long it has been, or the age when one has to bury a son or daughter, the loss is profound. And, while the group is Catholic-oriented, they welcome parents of any faith to join.

“(The late) Father Bill always felt that the best help to parents in similar circumstance comes from someone who has experienced such a loss,” shared Russell. “Pieta has been a major force for good in my life and I know that through it I have led a purposeful life.”

Pieta provides a place for parents to share their deepest feelings. While no one truly understands how each person feels, another bereaved parent can best relate to the pain and loss.

An excerpt from a letter from Pieta's Norwood group member Marion Demers, who has lost two sons, echoes this sentiment.

“I am so grateful to Pieta for walking with me through my grief and allowing me to walk with you and share your pain, so that I never felt alone. Thank you also for teaching me that when the wave of grief washes upwards and over me that I should not try to hide from it or run from it, but to lean into it until it subsides – then I can wipe the tears, blow my nose, take a deep breath, feel the release of tension and continue once again,” she wrote. “It was never a pleasant journey, but you folks certainly made it a lot easier and you gave me hope that I would survive and, yes, laugh again.”

For more information, email Catherine Russell at [email protected]