Virtual Meetings

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Tomorrow we will attempt to begin virtual meetings via Zoom, as the pandemic is still an issue for in person meetings. I am hoping this might make it easier for more of you to attend as well. Unfortunately, Zoom limits meetings to forty minutes, but I believe if people want to chat longer I may be able to open another meeting after the first one. We’ll play it by ear. Please bear with me while I venture into learning this new technology. I have not hosted a zoom meeting before, but it doesn’t seem too intimidating! I will post links here and in the facebook group as well. As always, meetings will be held the second Tuesday of the month at 7:30 pm. I am hoping September will go smoothly and we will be able to have a successful memorial service as usual in October.

Topic: Empty Arms September Meeting
Time: Sep 8, 2020 07:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us04web.zoom.us/j/79229552120?pwd=V29LbFNYTHBjNkY4QTAyQTYxaUxoZz09

Meeting ID: 792 2955 2120
Passcode: 1ujseS

Stay at Home Order & Donations

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Due to the advice to stay at home and avoid unnecessary contact, there will be no Empty Arms meetings until further notice.  Please know that I am always here if you need to talk.  I know this is a particularly hard time for those of us who have suffered losses.  We are all extra worried about our loved ones, especially our children.  You can call me at 774-7064, email me at angela@mapsofmastery.com, or contact me via Facebook.  For our private Facebook group, search for Empty Arms Erie PA.  There are many of us who frequent the page.

I would like to thank Rose Day again for her donations in memory of her grandson Tristin Xavier Day.  They go a long way towards continuing our holiday ornament tradition.

Please stay safe, and know that you are not alone at this difficult time!

Onward

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If there is one thing I’ve learned from Empty Arms, it’s that we all grieve in our own way, and we do not have to abandon things that work for us before we are ready.  I have been strongly encouraged by all the former leaders of the group to bring the group to a close.  Attendance at monthly meetings has been practically non-existent for the past year.  We have had several phone calls from new people seeking support for the past couple of years, but most of them have not even attended one meeting.  It seems like the time has come.

But, I am not ready.  This December marks my fifteenth anniversary of attending meetings at Empty Arms.  And I’m not ready to let that go.  I realize that many people are finding their support these days online, and I am happy to provide support through our facebook group and this blog.  But I don’t feel that’s a sufficient replacement for real world meetings.  Sometimes, talking to a human being in the same room is what we really need.  I know that there are other groups that are all over the news, so maybe more people are finding those groups.  But, I also don’t think that those groups are a replacement for a peer-led support group, free of religious overtones, pressure to stick to a set topic, or any feeling of needing to raise or contribute funds.  Any effort to offer and increase support for parents suffering pregnancy or infant loss is welcome and needed.  But that does not mean our little group doesn’t still matter.

I know that much of the encouragement to close the group comes for concern for me and my health and well-being.  I appreciate that so very much.  For those who do not know, I have been suffering from chronic migraines for quite some time now.  Constant pain has a way of wearing a person down.  I admit that it is discouraging to show up every second Tuesday, despite my pain levels and other stresses in my life, only to have no one attend the meetings.  There have been times, before other leaders suggested it, that I wondered why I was doing it.  I have also let regular blog posts become a thing of the past, mostly because they do not seem to garner much of a response and I wonder how many people they are actually reaching.  After months of soul-searching, though, I have come to peace with the fact that the group is changing.  I am okay with still showing up, even if I only help one or two people who need to talk in the space of a year.  Because I still need this group.  I still need to do this thing that I can do for my babies, and all of you.

This does mean that some things will have to change.  I may need to occasionally cancel a meeting, as I did in November.  Because of the low attendance, I do not feel comfortable asking anyone else to cover for me.  So, if the weather is horrible, or my pain levels are unmanageable, or I have pressing family commitments, I will cancel the meeting.  This information will be posted here and in the Facebook group.  I hope that will be sufficient to inform anyone planning to attend of the cancellation.  I am including this and other changes with our annual holiday ornament mailing, so current members should be aware of the change.

I have also come to the difficult decision to end the Mother’s Day Flower Project.  Attendance for that has also been very low the past few years.  Expenses were lower this year, as I was able to have some flowers donated by local florists, but I do not feel comfortable soliciting donations again due to the low turn-out.  I feel that those of us who have participated faithfully in years past will probably continue the tradition ourselves on a smaller scale, but I think it’s time to let this group event go.

Thanks in large part to the faithful donations of the family and friends of Tristan Xavier Day and his grandfather, Robert, I believe we can continue the holiday ornament tradition for years to come.  I have been able to limit the costs of this greatly thanks to a yarn bequest from Eleanor Cilladi.  I’m not sure how long I will be able to find suitable crochet patterns, so I would greatly appreciate any future ornament ideas from all of you.  Much as we love the beautiful beaded ornaments Brooke designed and made over the years, I’ve been trying to limit the ornaments to yarn and paper that do not require extra postage and will not risk being broken in the mail. So, please, if you see any cute ideas, pass them along.  We will continue to accept donations of stamps of money to buy stamps.

I am torn about whether or not to continue the October Memorial Service.  This was the first year when we had no one to attend the October meeting.  I did not plan readings or bring extra snacks or mementos because I was unsure of turnout, but I was fairly sure we would have a service after all.  I know there are other services for Pregnancy and Infant Loss in the area, but I would dearly love to continue our tradition.  I welcome your thoughts on this topic.  To me,  our little candle-lighting and poem reading service always meant a great deal.  Please tell me if you have ideas on how to improve attendance for this event.

Our December meeting is usually the most well-attended of the year.  I think many of us look forward to meeting to receive the new ornament, eat too many snacks, and talk about our unique holiday challenges every year.  I hope that next week’s meeting proves this to still be true.  I plan on arriving with all the usual props, the extra table for goodies included.

So, this is where I stand.  Thank you, Patty, Carol, Kate, Brooke, Rose, and everyone else who has expressed concern for me and the future of the group.  Thank you, Brandy, for planning to attend the October meeting and reminding me why I don’t want to give up. (I’m sorry illness got in the way!). As always, I am here if you need me, and I welcome blog posts from  any of you.

Onward, to year 16 for me, and year 38 for Empty Arms.  In whatever incarnation it needs to exist.

October Meeting: Memorial Service

Angela West is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.Topic: Memorial ServiceTime: Oct 13, 2020 07:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)Join Zoom Meetinghttps://zoom.us/j/94255536190…Meeting ID: 942 5553 6190Passcode: qg3z1Y

Above is the login information for our October Zoom Memorial Service. Unfortunately, Zoom’s free service limits us to 40 minutes. Please feel free to bring a candle to light and something to read if you would like. I hope we can make this a lovely memorial for our babies.

No November Meeting

I apologize that there will be no November support group meeting.  Attendance has been non-existent lately, and the second Tuesday happens to fall on my son’s 18th birthday.  I don’t feel it’s fair to ask someone else to lead that night, since it is unlikely anyone would be there.  Please feel free to seek support in our Facebook group, or to call me or one of the other members if needed.  We will have our regular holiday ornament meeting in December.

Mother’s Day/Flower Project/Donations

Mother’s Day is fast approaching.  I hope you will consider joining us for the Flower Project.  We will meet in the parking lot at Liberty Family Practice the Saturday before Mother’s Day, May 11th, at noon.  I will have flowers and some bulbs for decorating our babies’ graves and those of others throughout local cemeteries.  I have cut back on the number of flowers of years’ past, due to the limited attendance in recent years, but hope that we can continue this tradition.  I am happy to announce that some of the flowers will be donated by Beth’s Hearts and Flowers in Girard, and Naturally Yours Designs in Fairview.  Beth’s Hearts and Flowers is also allowing us to purchase the remainder of the flowers at cost.  I would encourage all of you to visit these wonderful local florists for your floral needs, as this is a huge help to our group.

In addition to the generous flower donations, we have also received a donation from Rose Day in Memory of her grandson Tristan Xavier Day for Easter.  Also, a donation in Memory of Tristan’s grandfather, Robert D. Day, from the Retired State Police of Pennsylvania.

I wish you all a peaceful Mother’s Day, with time, space, and love to remember your missing loved ones.

Seasons of Grief

Sometimes it takes me by surprise when grief falls upon me at certain times of the year.  You would think I’d expect it by now.  Sometimes, though, as years go by, the days I expect to be heavy are not as heavy as before.  This year, though, as hints of Spring start appearing, I am reminded that this is a season of grief.  March brings memories of my father’s illness, with Easter and memories of his death bearing down.  The end of March will always bring with it the heaviness of loss of our second lost baby, River, the cosmic joke of bleeding out our dream on April Fool’s Day.  And April brings both the anniversary of Dad’s death and the birthday of our late nephew, who should be 19 this year.

Somehow the grief is easier to embrace and not feel I need to hide in November and December, when the world is dark and dreary and everything seems to be grieving with me.  Spring is supposed to be hopeful, a time of new life, new beginnings, joy and celebration.  We aren’t supposed to be sad.  And yet we are.  Death does not always come at fitting times of the year.  It comes when it chooses, sometimes heaping itself upon other, older griefs.  And we have to deal with it, no matter how inconvenient.

If you are fighting tears when everyone around you seems uplifted by lengthening days and warming temperatures, know that you are not alone.  We are in this together.

Donations/Flower Project?

We are so grateful for the recent donations that have been coming in!  Postage for the holiday ornaments is our first priority, but we may be able to continue the Mother’s Day flower project as well.  I hope to do a mailing this spring to some local florists to see if we might be able to get some flowers donated.  Please let me know if you are interested in participating in the project next year.  I may be running a poll on the facebook page as well, since turnout was very low last year. This project has been a meaningful part of our group for many years, but it requires members to pick up flowers and place them at their local cemeteries.

Donations have been made in memory of Robert Day, Grandfather of Tristin Xavier Day, from:

Rick & Joy Juliette of Punxsutawney, PA

Dorothy Jane Pisarcik of DeLancey, PA

Student Health Services at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania

The Fraternal Order of Police of Dubois, PA

and Shannon & Bryan Farcus of Athens, OH

Also, a donation from Rose Day in memory of her grandson Tristin Xavier Day on Christmas.

And, a donation from Cynthia A Ferrese in memory of her Granddaughter Angelica E. Booth.

Also, special thanks for Holly Manross and Bud Curry for their donation of stamps that was a huge help in the ornament mailing, in memory of their son Braden.