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.

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.