SLOW is here to support you following the devastating loss of your child.
SLOW runs support groups for bereaved parents across London. These meetings are a place to be yourself and take strength from the support of others, before returning to daily life and its challenges. At our meetings, you can share stories with others who have also experienced the death of their child.
All our groups are run by trained bereaved parent facilitators who have first-hand experience of the devastation of losing a child.
Who can come SLOW Support Groups?
SLOW welcomes all bereaved parents, be it weeks, months or years after the death of your child, whether your child was an adult or a baby or the varying circumstances in which they died.
Mothers and fathers can come alone, or as a couple.
Our meetings are ‘open’ groups, meaning that there is no pressure to come regularly, or to adhere to a certain number of meetings, but to come whenever it feels right to do so.
Parents are welcome to come in the way that helps them, some attend regularly and others come occasionally.
SLOW is always there when the grief becomes too difficult to bear alone and our primary aim is to provide a safe space that is welcoming where you can meet and share your experience with other bereaved parents.
I found SLOW 3 months after my son died. It was a lifeline for me to know I wasn’t alone and that there were others who really understood what I was going through. I connected with two other members who were pregnant at the same time and we remain close friends. These bonds have helped sustain me through the darkest times of my life.
What happens at SLOW Groups?
The SLOW group lives, breathes and grows from a simple ethos – we meet, we listen, we talk, we can be silent, we respect each other’s differences and we share our pain. Parents come because they want to connect with others who understand what they are going through. Though our circumstances vary widely, there is so much that is shared.
We have learned that parents prefer to talk about whatever is uppermost for them at any given time, rather than attend prescribed theme-based sessions. We do however observe that there are times of the year which can be particularly painful for bereaved parents – religious festivals, Mothers’ and Fathers’ days, summer vacations, and anniversaries and birthdays.
At the start of each group, parents can introduce themselves and share their story or whatever is uppermost in their mind. No one is pressurised to talk, for some people just being in the group and listening to other parents’ stories is enough.
The meetings are not counselling or therapy groups but self-help, connecting bereaved parents so they support and share with each other. Whatever is said in our groups is confidential and we also ask that our members are respectful of each other’s views and decisions.
SLOW provides a small library of books on bereavement and grieving at our support groups that can be borrowed.
Our support groups are free to attend but there is a suggested voluntary donation of £2 per group.
We can also run a creche for babies and small children at the daytime weekly group (in North London) if requested in advance for a charge of £5 per group.
SLOW has carried me, cared for me and guided me through the darkest wilderness and helped bring me back to a “new” kind of normality.
Coming to the group was like putting one foot into the world.
How often do our groups run?
SLOW runs weekly daytime and monthly evening groups in North London and a monthly daytime group in South London.
All groups run in school term times and the dates of forthcoming support groups are displayed on the calendar. Our daytime meetings take place over an hour and a half and our evening meetings run for two hours.
Attendance at the groups is flexible and parents may attend for as long and as often as they feel the group is providing them with the support they feel is helpful. Some members attend every week/month while others drop in when they need support. Some long-term members return when they feel stronger to support more recently bereaved parents in the group.
How do I join a support group?
A member of our team (a bereaved parent) will contact you within a few days to arrange a convenient time to phone and discuss with you how the SLOW groups may be able to help.
Please be aware that SLOW is a small charity and our facilitators work just a few hours a week but they will be in contact.
This initial phone call puts you under no obligation to arrange to visit the SLOW groups. If you wish to come to a group, you’ll be invited to attend a meeting and given a map of the venue address.
Coming to my first support group –
A bereaved parent’s story
One of our members reflects on coming to her first support group after the death of her daughter:
“SLOW was first mentioned by the hospital palliative care team who came to see us after our daughter died. They described this group of parents who had experienced the death of their child or children and who meet up to support one another making sense of this new world, this new existence without your child in it. I am a big believer in the power of support groups and was really drawn to the idea of parents who could honestly say: “I know how you feel; I’ve been there.”
So, I found myself outside the group venue in North London on a December morning, took a breath and walked in, along a corridor where I could hear excited chatter. In the room, I was warmly greeted, given a tea and sat somewhat numbly on a chair listening to people around me, who all seemed to know each other. I felt afraid. But Nicki, who founded the group along with Susie, and who now also runs it, was so lovely and so was everyone else. After Nicki talked about the group’s purpose, everyone introduced themselves, their dead children and shared about finding their way in this new life, our world of grief.
It was very touching, hearing all these different stories. When it was my turn to share, I almost couldn’t stop talking, amidst a lot of ugly crying and snotty nose blowing. Being able to say my child’s name, share about my envy of ‘normal’ families, talk about details of her death – and all of that being met by understanding and support – felt good. I felt relieved and assured that what I am going through is indeed the worst thing anyone can ever experience, that it is horrendous and dark and painful. And the message I left with on that day is that people can find life within that grief. That there will often be dark days and dark periods, that grief changes and evolves along with us, that there is no moving through, only moving with, and that it is possible to find happiness and joy. If you are a grieving parent, please come and see if SLOW is right for you. It is helping me so very much.”