Centreville Rachel Crossett was just 6 in July 2001 when she died of cancer after a long fight. Her death devastated her mother, Meg Crossett; but with a husband and other children to care for, she had to be strong and carry on.
But it wasn’t easy and, even today — more than a decade later — Rachel is never far from her thoughts. Now Crossett, of Centreville’s Pleasant Hill community, has started a bereavement group for other mothers who’ve lost a child.
The next meeting is Wednesday, Sept. 26, at 7:30 p.m., in the Virginia Run Community Center, 15355 Wetherburn Court, off Route 29 and Pleasant Valley Road, in Centreville. And Crossett’s reason for organizing the group is both simple and heartfelt.
“I realized that we have had so many children lost in our area that moms helping moms might ease some of the pain,” she said. “Sometimes it helps to talk with someone who has walked the path you are on.”
“Life goes on for everyone else but, as a mom, you are still mourning the loss of your child forever,” said Crossett. “Many people don't even mention the child's name anymore and, more often than not, moms actually want to hear their child's name coming from others.”
The group gives mothers an opportunity to talk about their children and discuss where they are in the grief process. And in this respect, said Crossett, “It doesn't matter if the child has been an angel for 10 years or 10 months.”
She said special days can be especially rough for some mothers, so they come to share their feelings with the group on those days, weeks or months. “Birthdays and angel days [the date the child died] are both difficult,” said Crossett. “Holidays, the first day of school, graduations — all the things your angel child is missing — hurt.”
“We, as Angel moms, know those dates; they stay in the back of our minds,” she continued. “Rachel would be a senior in high school this year. She will miss prom and graduation, and it tugs at my heart. I think many moms feel the same way.”
Crossett said some mothers choose not to talk and, instead, just want to listen. “Whatever works for each mom is OK with us,” she said. “This group is only comprised of moms and it isn’t for everyone. It is an open group; moms can come one month and miss a month. I just ask them to RSVP for snacks to Meglawless@cox.net. And at our upcoming meeting, I will poll the members to see if another day of the week is better for them, for this school year.”