Seacoast grief group helps parents past loss
By Hadley Barndollar firstname.lastname@example.org Posted Sep 10, 2017 at 3:01 AM
EXETER -- Ten years later, the Child Loss Bereavement Group based at Exeter Hospital is “living
proof parents can move on.”
In a one-year span between 2003 and 2004, Seacoast moms Caryl Dow and Dottie Bailey both lost a
child in car accidents. Dow’s son, Justin David Chabot, fell asleep at the wheel driving home from
a date on July 28, 2003. He was 16 years old. Bailey lost her daughter, Ashley Rose Bailey, 18,
when she fell asleep at the wheel while on her way to work on July 4, 2004. The accident happened
just three weeks after Ashley’s high school graduation.
While seeking various types of therapy and healing, Dow, of Stratham, and Bailey, of Epping, found
each other and decided a support group made up solely of grieving parents would be beneficial.
“What we have is unique,” Dow said. “We’ve all lived it.”
The free self-help group offers friendship, understanding and hope to bereaved parents, adult
siblings and grandparents after the death of a child of any age and at any time on the journey of
According to Bailey, part of their motive was to make sure for surviving family members, the day
her child died was not the day they would lose their mom, too.
“We wanted to live through it and be good parents to our surviving children,” Bailey said. “We
decided we wanted to share that with other people.”
Dow used Exeter High School as an example of a community that has been hit particularly hard with
student deaths, which leaves dozens of parents behind.
“It’s talk of the town,” she said. “Your heart goes out to those people. There has to be something
for parents. We both felt that therapy is great, but this is real reality and having someone to
help you and show you the way, somebody who has been through it, is most important.”
The group meets the second Monday of every month at Exeter Hospital. Dow and Bailey said each
session is full of emotion, including anger, sadness and a sense of being overwhelmed.
As opioid crisis continues to grip the region, Dow said the group has had an influx of parents who
have lost children to overdoses. This, she said, requires a different kind of coping.
Marking their 10-year anniversary of starting the group, Dow said they want to remind the community
they’re here for support.
“We’re here and we’ve been here 10 years in the community every month,” she said. “We’ve
experienced the loss, we understand that loss.”
Bailey said the time to seek out a support group is when friends and family “begin to step away”
after the loss.
“That’s the time that a group is what you need,” she said. “A place to go to continue talking,
because family and friends say, ‘Get on with your life,’ and we don’t say that. We try to help
Dow and Bailey said the hardest thing to do is coming to the first meeting. “You don’t have to
talk, you can come and listen,” Dow said.
“It’s not like we’re over it because that doesn’t happen,” Bailey said. “But you can live through
it. We’re living proof of that.”
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