I can remember leaving the hospital empty-handed, with nothing but a tan folder full of photocopied articles about grief and loss. The one thing that did mean something to me was a copy of Deborah Davis' Empty Cradle Broken Heart, which had a bookplate in the front. It read: "In memory of our daughter Elizabeth," with a date and her parents' names. Though the book was helpful, it's possible the most helpful part was the bookplate: it spoke to me and said, you are not alone. You may not know us, but we're out there, and this happened to us, too.
In the years since Empty Arms began, we've been trying to fine tune the resources we give to families. A copy of this book (with an inscription, of course) has been provided to many families, but beyond our own group literature we have struggled with what to provide. More information about grief? Web resources? Therapist’s names? What actually helps a family when they go home empty-handed?
My mind went back again and again to that bookplate- it said to me, "we're out here." THIS is the message we want to send to bereaved parents, and so we've set out to create a basket of healing - a care package of sorts - put together by parents that can show our support and love to family we haven't yet met. Our hope is that these bereavement kits will not only contain items that will assist with the challenging physical and mental aspects of healing, but will also be a gesture of kindness from one community member to another.
The comfort packages will include notes (like the one above) from fellow bereaved parents, a mug and cozy, a copy of Deborah Davis' book, and several other small tokens from our Empty Arms community. If you'd like to contribute something, write a note, or want to share what has been useful to you, please let us know at emptyarmsbereavement.org.
If you'd like to donate to help make this project a reality, all funds raised for Giving Tuesday this year will go directly towards comfort packages for bereaved families!
Thank you so much for creating this community with us.