Parents use support group to help overcome grief of lost young one

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By Stephen Thomas

 SHEPHERDSVILLE - The greatest gift a parent can give is the gift of life.

A gift in return from a child to a parent means more than anything.

For Trisha Eskridge and Nicole Cavote, who met face-to-face in the cemetery where their sons are buried, they received a special gift, having one another to assist through the pain and suffering of their loss. 

Parents Left Behind is an organization founded by women who have been through the situation of losing a child. The group was established to offer the assistance the founders themselves had trouble finding.

In 2006, president Trisha Eskridge lost both her twin sons, Carter and Caleb, within one week of their premature birth. Meanwhile, vice-president Nicole Cavote experienced the birth of her stillborn son, John Thomas.

The losses took tolls on both women, who dealt with other major personal issues at the time. They both recalled feeling like they had nowhere to turn.

When they met for the first time in the cemetery the mutual understanding and respect turned into a partnership.

Joining Eskridge and Cavote was secretary/treasurer Angie Mitchell, who experienced a miscarriage at 12 weeks.

It took five years to establish, but the women feel they have an organization that will help others who are experiencing the unexpected loss of a child.

“We wanted something where we could reach out to all parents that have lost,” said Cavote. “You need someone reaching out to you. We can offer others what we didn’t receive.”

Parents Left Behind initially created keychains and bracelets, something Eskridge referred to as ‘tokens’ to help spread the word.

“We wanted to broaden our horizons,” she said. “This lets others know we are out there to help with support, even financially whenever possible.”

Cavote said many parents are shocked upon the initial loss, unable to consider plans such as funeral arrangements.

“Most people at that time don’t have these resources, some can’t even claim life insurance,” she said.

“We want people to be able to get what they want (at that time),” said Mitchell/. “As a parent it’s the last thing on your mind. We’ll help with options. Trisha didn’t know (in her experience) that she could pay for a plot or stone. They just assumed she couldn’t afford it.”

Eskridge said the group hopes to establish communications with funeral homes, hospitals and other beneficial organizations to make themselves available for parents in similar situations.

Cavote mentioned that the group helps more than parents losing newborns or experiencing miscarriages; Parents losing children at any age can contact Parents Left Behind for assistance.

“We can pair parents with similar types of losses,” Cavote said. “It’s like a buddy system, we compare age, type of situation, and get them together to offer further support. It can validate your thoughts when you connect with others.”

“We even help parents of suicide situations,” Mitchell added. “Pain is pain, and everyone experiences different types, but it’s still pain.”

Eskridge said the organization offered 24-hour assistance and encouraged members to call at any time when assistance is necessary.

“A lot of times people have thoughts in the middle of the night,” she said. “It’s good to have someone to talk to anytime.”

Parents Left Behind officially established in Dec. 2010. They now host a website as well as a Facebook page available to members.

The founders said the Facebook community offered a place for parents to discuss their situations or to vent frustrations without the feeling of being judged or ridiculed.

“You don’t realize how many people are in similar situations,” said Cavote. “It’s always a battle. It was something you never talked about, the elephant in the room. Or you were told by others to just get over it.”

“Our marriages had their struggles,” said Eskridge. “Men and women can grieve completely differently. It’s tough on a marriage.”

Parents Left Behind created a motto: “We take you under our wings when your child receives theirs.” The group founders said the key is helping parents re-establish life.

“(The children) gave more than they took,” said Cavote. “We’re left behind with this life that we have to make. Connecting with others helps when you’re feeling alone.” 

“You have to make a new normal,” Eskridge said. “You either fight through it or you go downhill. Others can help you avoid a downhill spiral.”

The founders have done just that: After the loss of her twins (and two prior miscarriages), Eskridge is now the mother of a two-year-old daughter. Cavote, a mother of one son prior to her loss, has since given birth to three more healthy sons. Mitchell is also the mother of two, a young boy and girl.

For more information about Parents Left Behind, call (502)599-1582 or visit www.parentsleftbehind.com.

Donations to the organization can be made out to Parents Left Behind, P.O. Box 6571, Shepherdsville, KY 40165.