Advice from the founder of Mommies Enduring Neonatal Death, aka M.E.N.D.
Grieving the loss of a pregnancy or the loss of an infant can be alienating, overwhelming, and even crippling. Rebekah Mitchell, the founder and president of Mommies Enduring Neonatal Death (M.E.N.D.), wants you to know that you’re not alone. We spoke with her about the emotions that parents feel and the grief that comes from the loss of a baby.
1. What’s the one piece of advice you give the most often?
Don’t keep your feelings to yourself. Surround yourself with others who have lost a baby and therefore understand what you’re going through.
Are you grieving a pregnancy loss? Find support from others in our private grief support group.
2. What are some of the universal experiences you’ve seen in your work?
A few years ago I was privileged to train a couple from Africa on how to lead an infant loss support group; they were planning to start a group in their African village. During our training, I heard them say exactly what we hear parents say here in the United States. A couple of days later, I attended a Spanish support group. Even with my very limited understanding of Spanish, I could still tell these Mexican families were expressing the exact same thoughts and feelings I hear at our English-speaking support groups. I then realized that language, culture, or even different continents do not separate us grieving moms. Our loss is equally deep and our emotions are the same.
3. What’s one thing you’d like to share with a new griever?
Your grief is real. Your sweet little baby is and will always be a part of your family.
4. What are some ways others can help support someone in their grief?
Validate their feelings, let them know they are not alone. And though time will ease that deep, raw, ugly grief, we will never forget—we’ll always remember.
5. Are there any aspects of grief others may find surprising?
It doesn’t matter how many years that go by or how many more children couples may go on to have, the baby or babies they lost will always be remembered, and throughout the years there will be triggers that will take the grieving parent (usually the mom), right back to the place of fresh, raw sorrow.
6. Is there anything else you’d like to share that you think can help others?
You’re not alone and though it may appear no one understand this unique grief, there are countless of us moms and dads who really do understand and care.
Rebekah Mitchell is the founder and president of Mommies Enduring Neonatal Death (M.E.N.D.), which she founded in 1996, one year following the stillbirth of her son, Jonathan Daniel. M.E.N.D. is a Christian nonprofit organization, based in Irving, Texas, that reaches out to families who have suffered the loss of a baby due to miscarriage, stillbirth, or early infant death. M.E.N.D. has chapters across Texas and several other states.
Rebekah also serves on the Board of Directors for the nonprofit organization, Perinatal Support of Texas, as well as the Methodist Dallas Hospital Foundation Board of Trustees. Additionally, Rebekah sits on the Dallas County committee of Fetal Infant Loss Review (FIMR). Further, Rebekah is the North Texas contact for the National SIDS Alliance. And she is also the founding organizer of DFW Pregnancy & Infant Loss Comfort Connection. Several times each year, Rebekah is asked to give presentations to hospitals across the DFW metroplex on how to better care for patients following the death of a baby and speaks at various moms groups on how to respond to parents who suffer pregnancy or infant loss.
Outside of M.E.N.D., Rebekah serves as the Class Administrator for the Dallas-Irving Bible Study Fellowship International (BSF) class. Rebekah and Byron live in Irving, Texas. They have one living son, Byron, Jr., who lives with his wife, Anna, in Kansas City, Missouri.