July and August Newsletter

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EVENT TODAY! Join us for an Ice Cream Social at Friendlys in Florence, Tuesday July 10th from 4pm-9pm!

Meeting Times for July and August (please note all meetings are held at 140 Pine st. Florence, MA from 7-9pm). 

Miscarriage Support Group will meet on July 11th and August 8th.

Bereavement Support will meet July 25th, and August 22nd.

Termination for Medical Reasons Support Group will meet Thursday, July 12, but will not meet in August.

Subsequent Choices will meet July 18th, and will also take a brief hiatus for the month of August.

Saturday, July 28th, 10am-Noon our Parenting After Loss Playdate will meet at a local pool-- bring your suit and towel! Please rsvp to Autumn at 413- 896-5981 for more details ❤️

What We're up to this Summer 

We have two wonderful interns this summer: Caia from Mount Holyoke and Lisa from Smith College. We are very excited to have their help! Here are just some of the projects we are tackling this summer:

  • Writing our next 3 year strategic plan!
  • Compiling information for hospitals and parents about parents' rights to take their baby home for burial. Here is one mom's story of home burial in North Carolina
  • Writing booklet for providers on best practices for supporting bereaved parents
  • Creating an online training for medical practitioners based off the 4 hour in-person hospital trainings we currently provide
  • Applying to five new grants for Baystate expansion, sibling support, photography equipment, bereavement comfort kits, etc!
  • Updating our therapist and doula referral lists
  • Printing and distributing Spanish language support literature translated by an Empty Arms parent!

February and March Newsletter

Support Group Meetings for End of February and March
All meetings are at our office in the Florence Arts and Business Building, 140 Pine Street, Room 2B, Florence, MA.

Wednesday, February 28th, from 7-9pm our Bereavement Support Group will meet.

Thursday, March 8th, from 7-9pm our Termination for Medical Reasons Support Group will meet. 

Tuesday, March 13th, from 7-9pm our Subsequent Choices Support Group will meet. 

Wednesday, March 14th, from 7-9pm our Miscarriage & Early Pregnancy Loss Support Group will meet. 

Wednesday, March 28th, from 7-9pm our Bereavement Support Group will meet. 

Join us for the first ever Empty Arms 5K! The Syrup Stampede will be held on Sunday, April 8 at 10 AM. Check out our amazing website www.syrupstampede.com for details and REGISTER TODAY!

Also, let us know If you're interested in joining our brilliant team of parent organizers to volunteer with publicity, prizes, pancake breakfast planning/organization, pancake breakfast cooking and serving, kids activities, waiver research, and syrup research!

Join us for a lovely afternoon at Painting With A Twist, to celebrate what would be Josie's fourth birthday. Sunday, April 15th from 4-6pm. Invite your friends to the event on Facebook, and RESERVE YOUR SEATS TODAY! Half of all proceeds will be donated to Empty Arms. 


As always, let us know if you have any questions, or if we can be of help.

Yours,
Carol, Sarah and the EABS Team

Writing Prompts from the Retreat

By Sarah Nichols

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We recently held Empty Arms' first day-long retreat with ten parents gathering at our offices in Florence for a day of writing, community, and crafting. Jess also led a lovely session of gentle yoga, using an amended version of Joan Halifax's guided meditation on grief. It was absolutely magic to gather together! Here we've shared some of the writing prompts we used-- we invite you to write to any of these that moves you, and welcome you to share any part of what you write in the comments!

Prompt #1

In her book Vertical Interrogation of Strangers, Bhanu Kapil writes:      

“From January 12, 1992, to June 4, 1996, I traveled in India, England, and the United States, interviewing Indian women of diverse ages and background. Originally, my question to them was, ‘Is it possible for you to say the thing you have never been able to say, not even to the one you have spent your whole life loving?’

Over the course of the last four years I asked these women—strangers I met in theaters, forests, Laundromats, temples, and diners—to respond more specifically to one or more of a predetermined selection of twelve questions. They agreed, on the condition of anonymity, to submit a spoken (tape-recorded) or written response in thirty minutes. My aim was to ensure an honest and swift text, uncensored by guilt or the desire to construct an impressive, publishable finish.”

We gather today to write in this same spirit—with the urgency and depth of shared company, setting aside of perfectionism in the name of writing what feels most true for us today. We will take the next twenty-five minutes to write towards a selection of Bhanu’s prompts. Feel free to write to all of the questions, one of them, or none at all if you have a question of your own making in mind.

"Who are you and whom do you love?

What is the shape of your body?

What do you remember about the earth?

What are you waiting, or what are you wanting, to be asked?"

Prompt #2

Letter writing is one of the most intimate forms of address. In a letter, we can say what we might otherwise be reluctant to voice aloud, or what must cross a great span of distance to reach the recipient. The act of writing a letter can be a threading or line of rope between you and the recipient, a pulling in or towards. Or, a lit match in the dark where you wish their voice could answer in response.

Write a letter— to the addressee of your choosing. Since we have gathered together as Empty Arms community members, you may wish to focus your letter on your loss. This can look all kinds of different ways. Here are just a few possibilities for whom you may write to:

To your baby  

To a nurse or doctor who was there with you, what you’re grateful to them for, what was particularly comforting about their care, or about the ways their actions angered, disappointed, or deeply hurt you.

To your partner or dear friend, what they said or did that stuck with you, the ways your paths of grief ran parallel, and the ways they diverged. An offering of the truths and stories you have forged together and alone.

To your younger self, about what has happened since, the ways you’ve healed, changed, and the places that are still tender. What you’d want to tell her, if you could. The ways you carry her with you.

Prompt #3

In her book It’s Ok That You’re Not Ok, Megan Devine writes about what tending to her grief has looked like since her partner’s untimely death. She offers several writing prompts— some are short, like the seedlings of prompts here:

"Today, my grief feels like…

I wish I knew…

Kindness to, and patience with, myself could look like…"

And a longer prompt here:

Imagine Recovery (p.176)

"There are many ways to craft an image of your own recovery. To get started, you might write your responses to these questions:

1. Given that what I’ve lost cannot be restored, given that what was taken cannot be returned, what would healing look like?

2. If I step outside cultural norms of “rising above loss,” what would living this well look like?

3. How will I care for myself?

4. What kind of person do I want to be, for myself, and for others?"

We’re home!

It’s official! We’re home!! 
 
Thank you to everyone who has made this possible for our organization -- our incredible donors who have come through time and time again, our bereaved families who through their grief and deepest sadness have built a most amazing community, and our fearless Board of Directors and Executive Director Carol McMurrich, who knew when to take a leap for the organization.

We hope you'll stop by soon, and say hi!

140 Pine Street, Room B2, Florence, MA 01062

Thank you!!

Thank you. 

We are grateful for your generosity.
We are honored by your compassion.
We are overwhelmed by the voice you have given
our community and our babies. 

Over 250 individuals and families donated more than $11,000 to Empty Arms. We received an additional $13,000 in matching grants and prizes from the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, the Howard E. Stark Charitable Foundation and Jeanne and Norman Reynolds (Charlotte Amelia's grandparents). Combined, Empty Arms received almost $25,000 in donations. 

Truly incredible.

You've funded our organization's new home for the next year.
You've funded our Peer Companion Program, supporting families one-on-one from their time in the hospital to their return home. 
You've funded our support group meetings.

Thank you.

VERY exciting news!

Hello Empty Arms friends, supporters, and followers,

We are so excited to announce that after almost 9 years of patiently (and sometimes painfully) organizing our meetings in generously loaned spaces, Empty Arms Bereavement Support has found a home.

Tucked into the front corner of the Florence Business and Arts Center (formerly the Florence Community Center, and also known to many as the old Florence Grammar School), we have secured a room that will be large enough to house all of our current programs and allow us the ability to offer far more than we are currently able to offer without a location that is exclusively ours.

We are beyond excited. For years, we’ve longed to tuck people into comfortable chairs with cups of tea or coffee and make them feel at home. It’s our belief we will truly be able to do that in our new space. We are so grateful that we can design a space that truly allows us to provide a physically safe and comfortable environment for our community. No more will we face the over-formal setting of the conference room table, and we can say goodbye forever to fluorescent lighting.

We also see incredible options for expanding the support we provide with space of our own. No longer will people in crisis have to wait until the next support group meeting to connect with someone from Empty Arms in a private, safe setting. Our space will be large enough to not only host support groups but also trainings, potlucks, and parenting after loss playgroups. Our staff can work out of organized offices and become more productive. As our capabilities continue to expand, we look forward to learning what other types of programs and events we can offer.

You’ll see more details about our new space in upcoming emails. This is a HUGE step for Empty Arms! In the past, we’ve always felt compelled to scrimp on our expenses, but we feel the time has come to prioritize a home. It’s going to take everyone’s participation to make this happen. On May 3rd, Empty Arms will be participating in the Valley Gives Day campaign again! Our fundraising this May will be specifically targeted towards starting a nest egg to ensure that we can stay in our own place for years to come. We’ll be asking every person involved in Empty Arms to reach out to their communities to help us fundraise to acquire and maintain what we believe will be a true asset for all Empty Arms families now and in years to come.

With great hope and anticipation,
Carol and the team at Empty Arms

Support Empty Arms! Our first FRIENDLY'S Fundraiser!

Our Papa Gino's fundraiser was so INCREDIBLY SUCCESSFUL this year that we're DOING IT AGAIN!

Eat some ice cream. Join the Empty Arms' community for our FIRST EVER Friendly's Fundraiser!

WHEN: Tuesday, April 5th from 5 to 9 pm
WHERE: Friendly's, 54 Main St, Florence, MA 01062
WHAT TO DO: Join us for ice cream! When you're paying, give this certificate at check out, and Friendly's will give 20% of the proceeds from the night to Empty Arms!!

This fundraiser is also one of the beautiful ways we gather together -- share food, meet new friends, and build community.

Please note: Children and family members are welcome. Those who are newly bereaved should come knowing that any little ones who are present are those who are the siblings of those who are not with us. We hope that will make the experience seem manageable. Please drop us a note, if you'd like to talk about the event ahead of time -- or know what to expect.

We hope you can make it!
Carol, Beth, and the Empty Arms Team

*NEW* Partnership with the Northampton Parents Center!

Empty Arms is thrilled to announce a new partnership with the Northampton Parents Center! This partnership will increase support and connection for our families with living children, and provide a much needed space for families to connect with each other outside of support groups and events. 

How will it work?
On the first and third Wednesday of each month, Carol and/or Beth will be at the Parents Center from 9:30 am - 11:30 am. We'll be there to talk, to share a cup of coffee, and to foster connections with other families who have experienced loss. Even if you've never accessed our services before, this is an opportunity to connect. 

Where is the Northampton Parents Center? Where should I park?
The Northampton Parents Center is located in the lower level of Edwards Church at the corner of State and Main Streets in Northampton. Please use the back door and public parking. Admission is free. 

Thank you to Swansea at the Parents Center for being so excited about this partnership, and envisioning the many families we can serve together! If you have any questions, please contact Beth at bethpellettieri@gmail.com.

Annual Papa Gino's Fundraiser!

Join the Empty Arms' community for our annual Papa Gino's Fundraiser

WHEN: Thursday, February 25th from 4 to 9 pm
WHERE: Papa Gino's, 301 King Street, Northampton, MA
WHAT TO DO: Join us at Papa Gino's, or order delivery. Simply hand the cashier this flyer, or tell them you're with us. Papa Gino's will give 20% of the proceeds from the night to Empty Arms!! 

This fundraiser is also one of the beautiful ways we gather together -- share food, meet new friends, and build community.

Please note: Children and family members are welcome. Those who are newly bereaved should come knowing that any little ones who are present are those who are the siblings of those who are not with us. We hope that will make the experience seem manageable. Please drop us a note, if you'd like to talk about the event ahead of time -- or know what to expect. 

We hope you can make it!
Carol, Beth, and the Empty Arms Team

Coming up in 2016!

Thanks to everyone who came out for our Holiday Social! As always, we are grateful to have such an amazing community. Here are some new things for 2016 and a recap of the end of 2015. What you'll find below:

  • Empty Arms is searching for new support group facilitators. Apply!
  • New location for our Miscarriage and Subsequent Choices Support Groups
  • Carol's powerful blog on survival
  • Plus, updates on our November Trainings, Donation Campaign, and our new Strategic Plan

    Yours,
    Carol, Beth, Lexi and the Empty Arms Team

NEW IN 2016

Searching for NEW Support Group Facilitators
Have you ever thought about facilitating an Empty Arms Support Group? We are looking for new co-facilitators and substitute facilitators!

The motto of Empty Arms is “You are never alone.” That statement is a critical part of who we are as an organization. We know that being alone after the loss of a baby is unbearable, and companionship is essential at times of vulnerability. Our facilitators must not only lead support groups, but also work to build community within our support groups spaces and follow up with families throughout their grief journey.

As our support group model is focused on peer-based support, we strongly encourage those who have suffered the death of a baby through pregnancy loss, stillbirth, or early infancy to apply. Facilitators must be based in the Pioneer Valley. We strongly encourage people of color, women, LGBQ, and trans* people to apply.

As this is our first time hiring new facilitators, we ask that you are patient with our process. Please send a short cover letter explaining your background and interest to Beth at bethpellettieri@gmail.com by February 15, 2016. If you have any questions, please email Beth, and she will get back to you shortly. 

NEW Location for Subsequent Choices and Miscarriage Support Groups
We’re excited to announce a new location for our Subsequent Choices and Miscarriage 
Support Groups! Cafe Evolution is a cozy vegan coffeehouse and community meeting space in Florence, a village of Northampton. The cafe itself will be closed to the public during our meeting, so we'll be able to relax on their comfy seating, drink tea, and connect confidentially in this beautiful space. (There is free parking in the lot in front of the entrance, as well as street parking on Main Street.)

Star, the owner of Cafe Evolution, himself knows the pain of losing a child: His beloved son Jesse was born 20 years ago and lived 19 days. Starr believes deeply in the healing power of art and music. He has created the film SALMONBOY and several albums in Jesse's honor.

The Miscarriage Support Group meets the second Wednesday of each month from 7-9 pm. The Subsequent Choices Support Group meets the third Tuesday of each month from 7-9 pm. If you’re interested in joining, please email Lexi Walters Wright at lexi.walters@gmail.com before January 19th.

Bereavement Support Group continues to meet the fourth Wednesday of each month from 7-9 pm at the Baystate Outpatient Center Community Room, 325 B King Street, Northampton, MA. The next meeting is Wednesday, January 27th.

Being alive, afterwards.
In case you missed it, here’s a powerful new blog post on survival. Carol wrote this the year after Charlotte's birth, when she found writing in the third person to be the easiest way to tell her story.

2015 RECAP

November Training Report Back
Empty Arms teamed up with Holyoke Medical Center last November to offer a professional training titled, "Shaping the Journey of Bereaved Parents in the Birth Place." We had nearly 50 participants from local hospitals and across New England. Carol offered the 4-hour training, which sought to help professionals consider their own potential to create a positive impact when helping families through pregnancy and infant loss. Participants left with not just a list of things to say and do to help families endure the death of a baby, but also with a keen understanding of the societal norms under which we operate during everyday life, and how we often have to step outside of these norms when a baby dies. It was incredible to see so many professionals valuing our work and taking the time to focus on how to deliver the best care possible.

Here is a note of appreciation from one of the trainings --
"Thank you Carol for doing such an outstanding job. I've been doing bereavement work for 35 years or more, have attended numerous trainings and done bereavement counseling and therapy with hundreds of people. but nothing has ever moved me to the depths this experience moved me. Your generosity of so freely sharing your resources and insights was also much appreciated. "

2015 Holiday Giving
Thank you to everyone who participated in our 2015 Individual Giving Donation Campaign! Empty Arms received over $8,000 in donations from over 130 different donors. Wow.

We are ever so grateful for your support! Many of you shared our Facebook posts, emailed friends and family, and even donated yourself -- THANK YOU. Each year, our giving campaign is a humbling experience, and we are reminded of the incredible power of this amazing community. Thank you for all that you do. And no, it's never too late to donate.

NEW Strategic Plan for 2015 to 2018
In October, the Empty Arms' Board approved our first-ever strategic plan! For everyone who participated in the process, THANK YOU. Here are the results.

Tell us what you think! Email Beth at bethpellettieri@gmail.com with any questions or ideas. We’d love to hear from you.

Empty Arms Annual Fall 2015 Photo Fundraiser

For the third year in a row, Empty Arms is proud to partner with Erin Long Photography for our fall family photo fundraiser. Erin is the mother of Birdie Amiina Ruby Newman-Long, who was born still on March 3, 2008. She has been a cherished member of our community since the beginning of Empty Arms’ existence, and we’re so grateful that she is generously supporting Empty Arms again with a mini photo shoot opportunity. Photos will be delivered to you well in time for holiday presents and cards.

Mini-Shoot Fundraiser Details

DATE: Saturday, October 17, 2015

TIME: A 10-minute slot between 9am and 4pm.
(Email bethpellettieri@gmail.com with a 1-hour time block during which you’d be available.)

WHERE: 85 Easthampton Road in Westhampton (backyard of Carol McMurrich, Empty Arms’ founder)

COST: $75 (which includes a significant donation by Erin to Empty Arms)

The Photo Shoot - What to Expect

During your mini photo shoot, Erin will work with you to find a spot with perfect light and a great background for your family. There are rustic wooden outbuildings and wooded backgrounds, as well as green lawns and plantings. You are welcome to bring pets or other things that feel important for your family photograph. (Here’s some family photo inspiration.)

**Please note that there will likely be babies and young children in attendance throughout the day. If you’d like to reserve a child-free time, we will do our very best to accommodate this. Please let us know when signing up.

At the shoot, you will be tempted by an amazing bake sale, hot coffee and tea, cider and cider donuts. You can bribe your kids and stay for a while and chat. The event is always a lovely day for participants, and we certainly hope for equally great weather. If the forecast is uncertain the week leading up to the photo shoot, we will email a lengthy contingency plan.

The Photos - What to Expect

Erin will transform your family’s 10-minute shoot into five beautiful, highly edited final images that you will cherish forever. Erin’s work is truly a labor of love: We can’t say enough about the care that she puts into her craft, and the final products are breathtaking. The families who have participated throughout the years have been thrilled with the results.

Ten days after the photo shoot, your images will be available for you to view at an online gallery. There, you will be able to do several things:

  • Purchase professional, archival-quality prints: These are of much higher quality than something you’d print online or at a kiosk. When you purchase professional prints, Erin will kick back another cut to Empty Arms from all the prints ordered.

  • Order discounted press-printed cards: You can choose from 4 different styles and customize your own message. These cards can be used as invitations, announcements, and much more, and include your choice of white or parchment envelopes. Erin will offer yet another donation to our organization with each card order. (Thanks, Erin!!)

  • Download the images to work with yourself: If you’ve had photos printed professionally, you understand the difference in quality between them and those offered via discount printing sites. While it’s Erin’s hope that folks will take advantage of her excellent pricing and further donations towards Empty Arms, she also knows that this option makes it possible for people to share and work with images down the road.

Sign Up!

To participate, please email board president Beth at bethpellettieri@gmail.com and indicate a 1-hour time block during which you’d be available. We will do our best to sign you up for a 10 minute shoot within that block, and will get back to you with a final time for your family’s shoot.

Thanks, and we look forward to seeing you on the 17th!

Carol, Erin, Lexi and Beth

Fall Newsletter!

Fall can be one of the hardest times. The start of September is always a time of transition, the weather shifts, the smell of wetness on the earth, and the beginning of the seasons changing again. For many of us, September is a constant reminder of the child who is not here with us, not heading to their first day of school, or riding on the big yellow school bus.

If you find yourself faltering, or in need of support, please remember that you are not alone. Our support groups are at the ready to be there for you, and Carol, Lexi and our other companions, are always here.

Support Groups
Here’s a reminder of our regular, monthly support groups.

  • Miscarriage Support Group meets the second Wednesday of the month from 7-9 pm at Owl and Raven in Northampton, MA.
  • Bereavement Support Group meets the fourth Wednesday of the month from 7-9 pm at the Baystate Outpatient Center Community Room in Northampton, MA.
  • Subsequent Choices Support Group is on hiatus at the moment. Carol and Lexi will facilitate a new group starting in November.

    * Please stay tuned to scheduling changes in November and December due to the winter holidays. Changes will be posted on our Facebook page, and blog.

Events and Fundraising
Alexandria's Ice Cream Social
In July, Krystal and Larry Barnes hosted an ice cream social in honor of their daughter, Alexandria. The event was a huge success, and raised over $500 to support Empty Arms’ program and services. Thank you, Krystal and Larry -- and thank you to our community!

Empty Arms is hosting two fundraising events in October. Please mark your calendars!

1. Trivia Night 2015!
We’ll be having our first ever Trivia Night at the Holyoke Canoe Club on Saturday, October 10th starting at 6:30 pm. 

How it works: You rally your friends and family, and sign up for a table for ten. (Or, you can sign up individually, and we can find a fabulous table for you). Each table brings its own lavish feast (including adult beverages) to enjoy. Your table attempts to answer as many questions as possible. You win more honor and glory than you can possibly imagine (if you win, that is).

If you’re local, please join us! We promise it will be a wonderful evening of fun. For more information, email our event coordinator and Charlotte Amelia’s dad, Greg Reynolds at gregreynolds99@gmail.com.

2. Family Portrait Fundraiser
We’ll be hosting our THIRD annual Family Photo Day on Saturday, October 17th. This is always a favorite event, and we’re incredibly grateful to the talented and amazing, Erin Long (mama of baby Birdie) of Erin Long Photography.  Erin will be offering 10 minute mini-shoots, and will donate a significant portion of her discounted price to Empty Arms. If you are interested, please email Beth at bethpellettieri@gmail.com, and she will send you more information.

New Blog Posts
Over the summer, we started two monthly blog series, and the response has been incredible. We’re continually grateful that Sara Barry (Henry’s mama; writing about early infant loss) and Charlotte Capogna-Amias (Mummy to her dear child, due August 24, 2015; writing about miscarriage, and challenges conceiving) share their stories, reflections and inner thoughts with us each month.

We are also opening up our blog to our community through our “Meet the Family” blog series. If you are interested in participating, or just simply find yourself wanting to share a poem, a story, a moment, please reach out. We want the blog to be an open space for our community. If you’d like to share a post or just have more questions, please email Beth at bethpellettieri@gmail.com.

Upcoming Fall Training
We’re hosting our two fall trainings for health care providers on November 17th and 18th.  Please save the dates!

When         
November 17th from 4 pm - 8 pm (light supper will be served) 
November 18th from 8 am - 12 pm (breakfast snacks will be served)

Where
Holyoke Medical Center, 575 Beech Street, Holyoke,  MA 01040 (Auxiliary Conference Room)

To register, or for any questions, email Carol at emptyarmsbereavement@gmail.com.

About the Training
As healthcare providers, we often struggle with the “right” way to interact with families when their babies have died or are expected to die. Our apprehension can be our greatest stumbling block entering into situations of loss.           

In this training, we will look closely at the grief journey a family walks after the death of a baby and the ways in which the birth experience and the time a family spends with their baby shapes the road that will follow.

In this presentation, our speaker will look to spin our perspective on working with the bereaved to see that we hold a unique power to turn a very negative event into what can ultimately be a cherished memory. We will discuss the ways in which we present information and options to families at the time of loss and learn a myriad of strategies for helping families make the choices that are best for them at that time.      

The presentation will offer space for audience participation and will feature a panel of bereaved parents to offer their own unique perspectives.        

About our Speaker
Carol McMurrich, BA, EdM, founded Empty Arms Bereavement Support in 2007, nearly four years after the death during labor of her daughter Charlotte. A sociologist and educator by training, after her loss Ms McMurrich became passionate about the creation of community surrounding pregnancy and infant loss in a society that marginalizes death to an astounding degree. Empty Arms Bereavement Support was founded on the principles of first and foremost serving the families of the Pioneer Valley whose babies have died during pregnancy or after birth, and secondly providing the support to caregivers who will be instrumental in those families experiences of loss.

Says McMurrich, “Grief is a constant evolution for all people, but for parents whose babies have died their grief rests on a foundation which is the brief window of opportunity they have to experience their pregnancy, their birth, and their baby. Care providers are often the only knowledgeable people present who are able to carefully help families shape this foundation, at a time when families are often deeply in shock and unaware of the lasting effects of the decisions they will make.”

McMurrich’s professional trainings are based upon her own extensive training with Share, Pregnancy and Infant Loss, Inc, her own research, and her eight years of work with hundreds of bereaved families across Western Massachusetts and beyond.

As always, check our Facebook page for current updates and support group information.

 

Trivia Night 2015!

Question #1: Which of the following do you associate with Empty Arms?

  1. Invaluable support groups that help bereaved families
  2. Amazing parents helping other parents
  3. A far reaching network of families that understand each other
  4. A really fun trivia night
  5. All of the above

Though it may surprise you, the answer is “5”. That’s right, Empty Arms is putting on its first annual trivia night fundraiser this Saturday, October 10th at the Holyoke Canoe Club. This event, which falls in the middle of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, will be an opportunity to gather our wider community together for an evening of fun, companionship, and fierce competition that will ultimately benefit Empty Arms and the families we serve.

Here’s how it works:

  1. People rally their friends and families and sign up for a table for 10 (or sign up individually and we can find a table for you).

  2. Each table brings its own lavish feast (including adult beverages) to enjoy before we test your knowledge. Potluck and BYOB means low cost, great food, and super fun!

  3. Your table attempts to answer as many questions as it can in different rounds. Most questions are read aloud with your table discussing and recording answers on paper (to be graded and scored after each round).

  4. You win more honor and glory than you can possibly imagine (if you win, that is)

  5. Empty Arms wins and is able to help families even more.

In addition to the trivia, there will be a raffle for some wonderful donated items on display. Also, if you don’t succeed at trivia, you could always win a prize for the most scrumptious dish, meal, or beverage.  

Information on Registration

Tables for up to 10 can be purchased for $150. You can then sell your seats to friends and family for $15/head. We will be selling tables on a first come, first serve basis, and we are limited to 15 tables so please make your reservations ASAP! If you have extra seats at your table, please let us know as soon as you can (for example, if you only have 8 people at your table) and we will fill your spots with “extra people”. On the flip side if you’d like to participate but don’t feel you have the ability to pull together a table please let us know and we’ll try to find you a spot at someone else’s table.  

Who do I contact?  

Email Greg Reynolds at gregreynolds99@gmail.com with your table reservation. Within a week of your reservation, we’ll need a check made out to EMPTY ARMS BEREAVEMENT SUPPORT to hold your table. If you want to sign up as an individual, please email Greg and we’ll put your name on a wait list to fill openings at other tables.

What are some other ways I can help?

We need lots of help with our raffle. We're asking our community to donate items, and for volunteers to help set up and host the raffle tables on the evening of the event. If you have items you can donate, things you can make, or want to try to solicit donations of gift certificates or items to raffle off, please contact raffle coordinator Haley Tyree at haleyrtyree@gmail.com 

We also need help in the following areas:

  • A creative volunteer to coordinate the tables-- we’ll need tablecloths and centerpieces for each table
  • A few non-trivia team members to help with the scoring
  • An enthusiastic people-person to walk around and sell arms-lengths of raffle tickets to all in attendance

Please think about a way that you can engage yourself in our community by helping out! This is sure to be a super fun evening, and we are really looking forward to having you there to share in the fun and friendship.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have.

 Best,
Greg Reynolds
Event Coordinator
Charlotte Amelia’s dad, Empty Arms Board member

gregreynolds99@gmail.com
413-529-1610
413-687-1111 (cell) 


Meeting our Development Director & Support Group Facilitator: Beth!

Hi, Empty Arms community. I'm so excited and honored to be sharing this space with you. My name is Beth Pellettieri. I have met many of you, but not all of you, and I look forward to meeting everyone as my work with Empty Arms continues.

In January 2014, I emailed Carol and Lexi about volunteering with Empty Arms, and they quickly put me to work. I was new to the area, and looking for an organization that felt special and unique. My background is in women's health -- from teen pregnancy and HIV/AIDS, to providing support as a doula, and working in hospitals. My most recent gig was as board president for the Chicago Volunteer Doulas.

Empty Arms also hit an important note personally, as I had my own early loss in 2009. During that time, I felt lost and alone. The idea of an organization like this blows my mind in the best possible way. I'm grateful for the space it provides for families in the trenches of loss, and for those of us working through our journey of grief.

I'm thrilled to be our newest staff member. For now, my work includes increasing our development and fundraising activities, organizing databases, and improving our blog, communication and social media outreach. Please reach out with any questions, ideas, concerns. I'm really excited to be a part of this organization.

October 15th

October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness day. On this day, we are invited to take part in the international wave of light.  Beginning at 7 PM, light a candle in memory of your baby (babies) and leave it burning for at least one hour. In this way we will send a wave of light around the world as the seven o’clock hour passes from one time zone to the next. 

Within our Empty Arms community, we invite you to take part in acts of remembering during this hour. As we sit with our candles, thinking about the others in the world who share this loss, we know that we all hold stories-- stories that have defined us as parents and as people. Within our community of loss we sometimes share stories of the events surrounding our loss and even more often we share the experiences that have followed, and the ways in which our babies and our grief have shaped our present. Tomorrow evening, I invite you to sink back into memory and share some moments with one another. I invite you to share times you recall that bring warmth, times that make you want to curl into a little ball, and times that make you want to hurl a plate against the wall. I invite you to share whatever comes to mind as you remember your missing little one (s) and to share it within our community. 

If you are a member of our Facebook page, I invite you to post your memories on our page during the 7 o’clock hour. One, eight, or fifty would be welcome. It’s a way to get us into each others lives again and put our babies out into the world. If you are not a member of the page, you can post them here as comments, or you can email memories to me just to have somebody read what’s on your mind. You can jot down memories for you and you alone. 

Tomorrow night, as I light my candle for Charlotte, I will also be lighting it in memory of all the babies I have known over the years. While I have never seen your babies, never heard their laughter or felt their hand in mine, they are very real to me. I miss them with you and while I’m glad you found Empty Arms, I’m sorry that your baby isn’t with you. Even as I watch all of you grow and heal, that fact will never change. 

Best,

Carol

About our Bereavement Support Group room change...

At Empty Arms, we always aim to offer families the support they need in the best way possible. Sometimes, it's really hard to return to the place where your baby has died for support. We have heard this many times over the years, but lately we've been hearing it more. Coming to the hospital was feeling hard for folks, and we heard this loud and clear.

While we're grateful to Cooley Dickinson for continually offering us space to meet, at this point it makes more sense for the comfort of those coming to meetings to find a more neutral space. Baystate has a new outpatient center on King Street in Northampton, with a shiny new community room they are happy to let us use. So, for the foreseeable future, we will be meeting there. Our meeting time will be bumped to 7:15 PM to allow us to have a representative at the conference room at Cooley in case somebody comes there to meet.

Thanks so much for understanding as we work to meet everyone's needs as best we can! 

May Mother's Day Event

May is just around the corner and I would like to formally invite you to our annual May gathering for the Empty Arms community. Our event is going to be different this year. Our walk, which began as a fundraiser to purchase a lending library seven years ago, has truly transformed into a community event in which we all come together to share in our loss, our courage, and our progress. We felt that the part of the walk that was the most important last year was our community picnic that followed, and so this year we are organizing a memorial with a picnic to follow, without the organized walk. We hope you’ll still wear your t-shirts! (and if you don’t have a t-shirt and want one, contact Jean at atamomma@gmail.com)

As always, we will gather on the Saturday before Mother’s Day at 11 AM. (May 10). This year we will start at John  Bator Park at the Children's memorial-- the Angel of Hope statue. We will have a short program there where we will read the names of all the babies we will be missing that weekend (and always). Families will be given a white rose to place at the feet of the statue when their baby's name is read. We are looking for community members to contribute to this brief ceremony, so if you have a poem or song to share, please let us know.

From there, we will journey up the hill (.8 miles, you can walk or drive) and have a community picnic at a pavilion in Nonotuck Park. Ours is the first pavilion on the right when you enter the park. We are hoping for donations of dessert or salad and Empty Arms will provide the main course. 

Please send the invitation around to anybody special to you who you would like to be part of this special day. Typically, people invite and bring family members and friends who were very supportive of them at the time of their loss. Please note that the memorial is at 11 and the picnic at 12, so it’s possible to invite people to one or the other if that is more appealing to you. Also, if you feel moved to suggest it, we welcome families to make donations in memory of a baby/babies to honor a mother on Mother’s Day. Donors and honorees will be listed in a program for the event. 

I always like to remind the newly bereaved in particular that this is an event to which all current and past members are invited, which means that there will be babies and possibly pregnant mothers there. While in the past I have heard folks say that seeing group members in that state can be encouraging, knowing what they’ve been through, I also know that being around pregnancy and babies can be extremely difficult. Please let me know if you need support around this. 

As always, “We’re so sorry you’re here, but we’re so glad you found us”. I look forward to reconnecting with many of you on May 10th at 11 AM.