Beliefnet
On October 14, 2000, Beliefnet member Sandy Whalen started a prayer circle for bereaved parents in memory of her son Shane, who had died suddenly the year before of heart failure at age 24. Sandy, whose member name is shaner, wrote at the time, “This Circle is one of Love, where a Grieving Parent can safely come to for Prayers, and to talk about their feelings.”

Today, it remains one of Beliefnet's longest prayer circles, with thousands of posts.

Sandy’s welcoming words and loving spirit tapped into a deep unmet need. The prayer circle has evolved into a valued support group for hundreds of parents who check in with and help one other through what one member calls “the valley days.”

Sandy, who spends three to four hours a week voluntarily answering every post, explains why she thinks the circle has touched so many people: “I noticed that moms and dads wanted to talk about their pain and grief, the different feelings and emotions that the unique loss of a child brings up, the painful memories as well as the good ones. But quite often they didn't have the ongoing support they desperately needed from family and friends, who don't, of course, understand how this type of loss deeply affects you and changes the person you once were.

“This is a very safe haven to let your feelings out," she continues. "They would never be judged by what they share, and only [be] offered support, compassion, understanding and love (and of course prayers!)—so it has given them a 'voice' that they wouldn't normally have in their lives.”

She adds, “I get just as much back from it, and it has helped me tremendously in my own journey.”

Below, a selection of posts that show what makes this prayer circle so special.

"You have no idea how long ive looked online for something like this...ive searched n searched, the rooms i have found no one goes to. You are the thing ive been praying for.. May all your prayers be answered, and again thank you soo much. Love to all. Blessed Be."
Lilith1671

"I had a daughter die at the age of 18. It is going on the 6th anniversary of her death. It has been a hard six years; but we have fumbled through the fog. To all who have lost a child recently my prayers are with you because it is the worse pain anyone can ever feel. But remember the fog does lift--slowly and you will resume your life again even though it will never be the same again."
mistywine

"May God ease the pain of all grieving parents. May we remember them with love and joy and not so much pain. God grant that we may learn the lesson we are taught with this experience. My son Robby, age 19, died suddenly on April 16, 2001. My joy is gone. Everyone says it takes time, but I have never been away from my son this long before. Until we can be with our children again, may the good Lord grant us peace."
Weedbike

"Thank you, my dear angel sisters: Sandy, Donna, Debby, Selva, Lisa, Cindy, Billie, Eva, Yvonne, ... And all the new angel moms who have been there for me during both the valley days and hilltop days. It helps to know that there are others who truly understand what it is like to lose a beloved child! It is my constant prayer that God will increase the number of peaceful moments, as you continue your grief journey at your own pace. What a blessing it is to know that we will never have to bear our cross alone!"
LOVE2U

"cindys1021, I'm so very sorry to hear of your loss of your beloved daughter. It hasn't been that long for you so your grief is very fresh and raw right now. Even knowing that your child is terminally ill does not prepare you for the intense grief that follows. Nothing does. Your daughter shares the same date of death as our son, March 15. Hold onto the thought that the love you shared with your daughter never dies, it lives on, and yes, one day you will see her again! God bless you and your family."
shaner

"March 15th...it's been 3 months--doesn't seem real. I know she is with me, but I ache to hear her voice, run my fingers through her hair, rub her feet,like I did in the hospital. Oh dear Lord, help me survive this day...the tears are still constant and the pain so sharp. Shaner--I know the 15th will be hard for you you too--I will pray for you and Shane this day also."
cindys1021

"Thanks my dear sisters, I thank God for having you. These holidays are really tough, now I am going back to my home, the movers are coming at 4 pm, I'm asking God for strenght, letting go of Solange's material things is so hard, then next week I am meeting with Solange's organ's recipient, and 2 days after that it will be her birthday on Earth, she would have been 22. Ay my sisters, I know you understand this pain."
SELVAM

"Special days are always difficult for those of us who have lost a child/children. As we approach the upcoming holidays, let us remember to pray for each other, and also for friends and family who simply don't understand that through no fault of our own, our lives have been changed forever. Let us pray that God will reveal to them that it's OK to mention our child's name. And, that it helps to talk about how we are feeling!"
LOVE2U

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