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Holiday Hope: Rock Goodbye Angel unites mothers facing worst loss
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Idalia Mora (left) and Sarah Coakley met through Rock Goodbye Angel after losing children within days of each other. The two women have helped each other navigate their grief and hope to help other women with the same suffering. - photo by Kristen Oliver

Rock Goodbye Angel

What: Nonprofit peer support network for families who have experienced child or pregnancy loss

Where: 615 Oak St., Suite 900, Gainesville

More info: 770-331-1281, www.rockgoodbyeangel.us

“As I was leaving the hospital, little did I know she was going in,” Coakley said.

The ladies met a year later through a group meeting with Rock Goodbye Angel, a nonprofit organization for women and families suffering the loss of a child due to miscarriage, pregnancy loss or sudden infant death syndrome.

“Sarah and Idalia were at the hospital within a day of each other,” said founder Angela Ewers. “But the difference is Sarah knew about us at that time and Idalia didn’t.”

Coakley first heard about Rock Goodbye Angel through a friend who lost a child to sudden infant death syndrome. She attended the nonprofit’s annual candlelight memorial with her friend while she was pregnant with her fourth child.

“I was pregnant and she was a grieving mom,” Coakley said. “I was just so touched by these women, these families and dads. I cried for days and told my husband, ‘They took this horrible tragedy, but honoring it was so beautiful.’”

A few months later, she found herself in the hospital. She lost her son after three perfect pregnancies.

“I felt kind of tricked by God,” she said. “I just thought, ‘I didn’t mean I liked this group so much that I wanted to be a part of it.’”

Coakley’s son died Dec. 2, 2011. The next day, Idalia Mora lost her first son in the same hospital.

Mora said her experience losing her first child was nearly “unbearable.”

“It all comes back to the nurses,” she said. “The nurse who was treating me at the ER comes to me and says, ‘I have good news and bad news. The good news is your cervix is closed. The bad news is you just lost your baby.’”

Mora said she was devastated by the loss of her son J.J., and her pastor quickly recommended she speak with Rock Goodbye Angel about her grief. She began attending group meetings in March 2012, where she met Coakley. In April the following year, both women experienced pregnancy loss again.

“I was still working through the grief of losing J.J., and then this,” she said.

Mora lost another early pregnancy shortly thereafter. Finally, in December 2013, both Coakley and Mora gave birth to healthy children.

“They’re both little rainbow babies,” Ewers said, using a term is coined by the baby-loss community.

“It’s from Noah and the Ark,” she said, “the hope of new life and of starting over.”

Coakley and Mora said they bonded immediately in their group meetings due to their coincidental losses.

So when Mora became pregnant again this year with her daughter Lila, Coakley was there for her every step of the way.

Mora was admitted to Northeast Georgia Medical Center in September, at which time she learned her daughter was not going to make it.

One of the first calls she made was to Coakley.

“She was there,” Mora said. “She was with me every step of the way. She was there when I gave birth to her.”

Mora said this time, she had wonderful nurses and the help of Rock Goodbye Angel. For the nonprofit to be present at the birth, they have to be invited by the families, not by the hospital.

“They give us permission like they would any guest and we have to sign in at the front and they have to say they want us there,” Ewers said. “We are not a part of the hospital at all; we’re just a local nonprofit.”

When Mora lost her first child in the hospital, she never had a chance to see him at all. This time, Coakley asked her if she wanted to bathe her daughter.

“I got to see her and bathe her and love on her,” she said. “That was a very, very different experience, and I’m just grateful for what they did for my family and me.”

Mora still attends Rock Goodbye Angel group meetings. They have a Hall County chapter and a Gwinnett County chapter that meet regularly.

“The friendship with everybody that comes to the meetings, hearing testimonies and hearing what other people and other mothers have experienced has helped me get through and cope,” Mora said.

At Rock Goodbye Angel, everyone acknowledges and understands a parent’s loss in a way that the rest of the world can’t, Coakley said.

“It’s a little like being a veteran of war,” she said. “You see each other and hug because you know you went through that time together. Now you have a scar and it’s with you forever.”

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