Support group formed to help parents who’ve lost a child
By CARI TROCK | News-Telegram Staff

Liz Etzkorn, founder of In the Heart of a Parent, stands in front of a bulletin board filled with names of the children lost by parents who attend the support group at League Street Church of Christ. She holds on to the heart-shaped pillow signed by the nurses who took care of her daughter, Brooke Elizabeth, who died at 18 months after her second heart surgery in 1990.

Aug. 16, 2005 -- Everyone experiences loss or difficult changes in life from time to time, and although healing is not an overnight process, support groups can help lessen the pain by providing comfort and care to those who really need it.

In the Heart of a Parent, a new support group in Sulphur Springs, is one that caters to parents who have lost a child. Liz Etzkorn, founder of the local group, felt there was a need for this kind of support system in Sulphur Springs.

“When my daughter died back in 1990, I had a bereavement group over at Children’s Medical Center -- that is where she was in the hospital,” Etzkorn said. “I’ve been over in Sulphur Springs now for about two years, and there’ve been several children die, people I didn’t know, but it really didn’t matter. There was a lot of pain going on.”

Although people are different in what they need and how they grieve, each person in the group shares a similarity: they have experienced a significant loss.

“It may not be for everybody, but it is a time when you can come together with other parents who know a lot about what you’re going through,” Etzkorn explained. “For me, it was very important. I went every month for two years after my daughter died and it helped me a great deal.”

The meetings are not highly structured, and discussions of lost loved ones and the stages of grief are just a few of the items on the group’s agenda. According to Etzkorn, a mother of two boys, this group is not just for parents who have lost a young child or an infant. It is for parents who have lost a child of any age.

“The main goal that I have for this group is to reach parents and allow them to come here to express their grief and maybe help them deal with their grief better,” Etzkorn said. “Talking to someone, I have found, is one of the best ways to figure out how to deal with it, just sharing what’s in your heart.”

The group meets at 7 p.m. every third Thursday of the month at the League Street Church of Christ, located at 1100 South League St. All who are interested are encouraged to attend. Etzkorn can be reached at 903-439-0592 for more information.

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