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A new support group within the Wairarapa aims to foster connection and support through a shared journey of baby loss.

Registrations have opened for the Wairarapa’s first Baby Loss Support Group beginning on April 8th, 2024, 7.00pm – 9.00pm. The group will follow a 6-week program tailored to their needs, and will be held at the Hōkai Tahi offices at Hessey House, 21 Worksop Road, Masterton. The space is fully accessible and offers breakout spaces for participants needing time away from the group.

The support group will cover a range of topics such as grief and identity, physical and mental side effects, incorporating memories of their babies into daily life, expression through art, navigating relationships after loss, and handling comments and remarks from others.

The group is facilitated by a registered counsellor (Debbie Aporo) and Support Coordinator (Lorraine Goulton). Debbie is currently a Health and Addictions Counsellor at Pathways, and a Support Coordinator with Hōkai Tahi. Lorraine Goulton is also a Support Coordinator with Hōkai Tahi and is in her third year of a Bachelor of Counselling (she also has a Bachelor of Nursing, Dip. Counselling, and PGCert. Mental Health Nursing).

Debbie and Lorraine aim to provide a comfortable, empathetic, and safe space for parents to share their experiences and the lives of their babies.

“We want to provide a space to acknowledge and honour the memories of our babies that did not get to see the world – a place to share and grieve their loss without judgement,” says Debbie Aporo.

Lorraine Goulton says, “My hope is that we create a warm, safe, caring, inclusive, confidential environment where whanau share their stories and leave feeling believed, accepted, supported and embraced on their grief journey.”

“We recognise that everyone’s journey is very different, and welcome anyone who is grieving, no matter the reason their baby died, their age, or gestation. There is no right or wrong way to grieve – we invite you to come as you are into a space of empathy, acceptance, and aroha,” says Hōkai Tahi Service Manager Rebecca Vergunst.

“There are several baby loss support groups in a range of formats around New Zealand, but this is the first baby loss support group in the Wairarapa. We have taken inspiration and advice from other groups and experts such as Vicki Culling in setting up this group, says Rebecca Vergunst, Service Manager at Hōkai Tahi.

Each cohort will be capped at 10 participants to allow plenty of time for discussion and sharing. Hōkai Tahi plans to run the group several times a year.

Registrations are open until March 29th, 2024. The group is free, made possible by the generosity of funders and supporters.