The launch of Coeurage & Laura Albo at her conference at St.Ignatius of Loyola Parish -- Photos :Joanne Of Arc
''Coeurage'' is a lay "reproductive loss grief care" and support program for those who have lost a young child to abortion, miscarriage or death, which was launched by Laura Albo on Nov. 24 at St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish.
“I went through reproductive losses, abortion & miscarriages. I was once feeling hopeless & not in the best state of my life. I think that I didn’t grieve as I should have grieved, and this messed with my way of life and relationships. I think that every woman who is out there and who may be feeling this kind of hopelessness or who is in that state, they should know that there is a chance to recover from that. So that is why I am here” said Laura when asked by QLC about her motivation for starting her ministry.
When speaking about the name of her ministry Laura explained “Coeurage is not misspelled. I believe you are never too old to bring your heart back together” [In French, the name Coeurage is a word play for heart & courage].
Laura Albo is the coordinator of ''BRAVE'', the Grief and Loss support programs offered at Options pregnancy center. Amongst these Coeurage is her own program, which she has been working on since, before the pandemic, when she was a volunteer at QLC along with the president of the organization, Georges Buscemi.
Prior to her current occupation, Laura was a teacher and has been teaching for 11 years in Mexico. She has taught at every level from daycare to university. Furthermore, as presented on her webpage, she has a Masters degree in Special Education, Psychopedagogical Intervention in Educational Contexts and Intervention in Learning Disabilities, as well as a Masters degree in Neuropsychology and Education.
Laura has been working for a long time with people who lost one or more children prior to launching Coeurage and this cause has been close to her heart because she personally had an abortion and two miscarriages. This post-abortion program has been years in the making (since 2018). Today, her goal is to make sure women or anyone who went through an abortion experience have a safe space to talk about and heal through their grief to find hope again after this great loss.
The launch of Coeurage was available to attend in person and online starting 7:30 pm on November 24th. Some of Laura’s closest friends and coworkers attended in person, as well as her supervisor Marcy from Options pregnancy center.
The evening started with a beautifully presented set of appetizers that included cheese plates & wine. Then, Laura’s supervisor from Options, began to warmly introduce Albo and her program:
“I am very blessed to be able to work with Laura at Options. We both were called to work in unexpected pregnancy care, but neither of us taught that we would be starting out doing it with a youth organization, but we are. We are working with Montreal Youth Unlimited which is also YFC, Youth For Christ Canada”, shared Marcy from Options center.
Marcy added: “A couple years ago, in 2019, Laura and I were introduced, and God has given Laura, Coeurage, this beautiful program to serve not only women, but anybody who has been touched by reproductive loss and so this is something we really wanted as well, so it was a good match. We knew we could host Laura’s program Coeurage, through our reproductive loss support program called BRAVE”.
She concluded “Laura’s curriculum is for people of any age, God has big plans for Laura and it’s going to spread across Canada, I know at minimum, or nationally, but we get to have her at the beginning (…) Coeurage is going to become something really big, and we are really proud to have her”
Laura then took the stage, thanked Marcy for her support and began to introduce the program. Coeurage was overviewed by a psychiatrist, Dr. MD, MSc, FRCPC (Psychiatry) Nancy Low who added her expertise and knowledge to the program.
Laura & Marcy from Options pregnancy center launching the event --Photo: Joanne of Arc
When presenting Coeurage, Laura put an emphasis on the aspect of learning how to grieve. She explained: “We learn how to grieve. When we are little we learn how to grieve. For instance, when we are children and we are sad, our parents give us candy to feel better. When we are older, we will look for the same sweet thing to help us grieve. If we are neglected, and we are told that we are okay, when we are not ok, we will learn to bottle up our emotions and that is how we grieve.”
“At Coeurage, they will learn how they grieve, what coping mechanisms they turn to and in being aware of that, they will be better for their future relationships. (…) I believe what Coeurage does is recovery. It’s not healing, I don’t like to say that I will heal you or give false promises and say that I will heal you. I believe reproductive losses are really hard losses. Actually, any loss if you think about it. It’s a healing journey, once you understand your feelings and what is going on, you start to recover. Your healing process is life”.
“The mission of Coeurage is rebuilding life, acknowledge their emotions, to build partnerships with other parents who have a similar loss and tell their story.”
The recovery programs that Coeurage has are:
- Post-abortion grief support group
- Miscarrying, stillbirth and infant loss grief support group
- Post-adoption grief support group (in the making)
All the programs are slightly different, because the losses are different.
Her work is focused on 3 main pillars:
- Understanding what grief is and what it isn’t
- Facilitating individualized GRIEF WORK process contributing to personal post-traumatic growth
- Making participants aware that growth through difficult experiences will help them re-discover themselves, re-discover hope and re-discover their purpose in life
Laura Albo at the launch of Coeurage, her Post-Abortion Ministry program --Photo: Joanne of Arc
Her Post-Abortion Grief program is divided into 9 weeks. The first session is always a safety & security session where the participants can talk and vent, be reassured that they are secure and will be taken care of. Then there is an acknowledgement of the loss session, followed by a session on the importance of telling their story. The program also touches upon the notion of disenfranchised grief. The latter is when a person’s loss is not acknowledged by society and cannot be publicly mourned.
She adds “One of the core values of Coeurage is resilience, that strength to resist and overcome challenges. The logo portrays that: you have this heart that is maybe hopeless or sad, or sung into unhealthy behaviours and you are not aware of that, but then once you start your healing process, this recovery, you understand what is going on with you and then you start blooming, but it takes work that the person has to be willing to do”.
To resume Coeurage, Laura stated: Overcoming challenges in life is a way to persevere and being a stronger person for oneself and for others. At Coeurage we encourage women & men to feel confident they can overcome grief in a meaningful way that constructs a healthy basis for personal holeness.
Finally, Coeurage Post-Abortion is not only for women, but for anybody who have had an abortion experience. This includes a father who may have forced their child to get an abortion because at the time they were certain it was the right choice, but now regret it. It also includes friends who accompanied a person to an abortion clinic and health care providers who assisted in abortion procedures.
You can view the entire presentation from the event here: