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HAND of the Peninsula: Newsletter December 2016
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Dear friends,
When speaking to bereaved parents, holidays are frequently a topic that generates significant anxiety. Participating in festive family gatherings is a daunting prospect for newly bereaved parents, and stepping into a new year is a painful reminder that time moves on. Even for those further out from loss, holiday celebrations have a way of making us keenly aware that our families are incomplete, that someone is forever missing. Parents have shared numerous ways to cope with the holiday season, and some of those ideas are included in this newsletter. We hope that you are able to find glimmers of peace in this season and wish you the very best. 


Yours,
Paige Abramson Hirsch,
HAND President

Surviving the Holidays

Published on: Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope  |  Putting a face on miscarriage, stillbirth and infant loss. A place for us to come together and share our stories and our faces with others who may be looking for reassurance that they are not alone. 

The holiday season can be an especially difficult time for families that have experienced a loss. We hope that the following tips and advice will help you cope and bring back some of the joy to the holidays.

Do what is right for you.
People may have expectations of you during the holiday season, but don’t let them pressure you into doing things you are not ready for.

  • Do what feels right for you, and don’t let people make you feel bad for feeling sad, if that’s how you’re feeling. If it brings you comfort, do it. – Rebecca
  • You have to celebrate/remember your baby in your own way. And the biggest thing is don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  … NEVER allow anyone to tell you how you should grieve and remember your angel. Especially if they have never been through it.- Jen
  • Do what YOU NEED to do without apology. If you need to skip things, skip things. If it helps send them a babyloss article or blog post that may have the words you need to use but can’t find – Martina
  • I think you should do whatever you have to do to get through this time. If you want to avoid things (Christmas parties, whatever), by staying home, or distracting yourself like I did, do it. I have heard of some people having Christmas day on a tropical vacation just to do something totally different than they normally would. – Rochelle
  • Don’t worry about what anyone expects you to do. You need to do only what you feel is right for you. No one else. If that means no decorating or gifts, then so be it. If people don’t like it, that is their problem, not yours. – Cristy
  • If it’s the first year, sometimes the holidays are too unbearable…then do what works for you and your husband even if it means going on a short vacation away from family. My mistake was feeling obligated to be with family instead of taking care of myself. – Patty
  • Do what your heart tells you to do, there’s no wrong answers. – LaRene
Find a way to honor your baby.
Whether it’s a special ornament, a stocking or a donation in honor of your baby; do something special for him/her and include them in your holiday.
  • Honor your baby with an ornament or some special time remembering them. – Kirsten
  • I did make an ornament to hang on our tree and sent one to my parents. I wanted to acknowledge him even though I knew I couldn’t count on how others would. … If you want to celebrate your child by having a candle lighting, hanging an ornament, a stocking, giving them a gift, donating in their name, DO it. Whatever you do will be right. – Rochelle
  • My fiance and I are going to make a donation in Kaden’s name and then doing something special in memory of him/her. I plan on doing this every year. – Maureen
  • Making your own tradition to include your baby helps. We made a stocking to hang with my baby’s name on it. We put toys to take to her resting place. – Patty
  • Last year was our first Christmas after losing our daughter. We honored her with her own special tree with special ornaments just for her and let her big brother help decorate it. Don’t let anyone tell you what you should or shouldn’t do or be feeling. Regardless if how long it has been. Everyone grieves differently. For me… Doing little things (like her tree) helps me do something special for ALL of my children on special occasions and all year long. – Lauren
  • What helps me is getting a special ornament for Christmas, it can be anything that helps you get through. Having something little like that, that you can see everyday that makes your heart warm. – Audrey
  • We hang a stocking for our babies; every year since 1997 and 1998 ♥ – Lisa
  • It took a couple of years to start to feel comfortable with the holidays. You just need to do what feels right. We have a mini tree that we decorate in his memory and a stocking that we hang. It’s our way to remember our special boy. – Corin
Continue reading...
Ed Sheeran - Small Bump [Official Video]

Upcoming: HAND’s Annual Volunteer Training

HAND of the Peninsula's annual volunteer training is for parents, family and friends interested in supporting HAND by volunteering in various ways, including: facilitating meetings, offering peer support to parents with a recent loss, serving on our Board of Directors, doing outreach to local hospitals and healthcare providers, managing our website and providing administrative support. More details...

Date & Time:  Saturday, January 28, 9:00am - 3:00pm (lunch will be provided)
Location:  Mills Health Center, San Mateo

Registration (by January 14): Please complete the application form, or email us at volunteers@HANDsupport.org

Highlights from HAND's Service of Remembrance

HAND of the Peninsula held its Annual Service of Remembrance on Sunday October 9, 2016 at Huddart Park in Woodside. Over 120 parents, families and friends came together to honor the babies we have lost, sharing readings, poems and music. At the conclusion of the service, several butterflies were released and families had the opportunity to scatter native wildflower seeds. The Board of Directors would like to thank all the volunteers who made the event possible and all the families and friends who attended.


                                               HAND of the Peninsula's Board of Directors

A Ritual of Light for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Event: Co-led by HAND Facilitator

North Bay Facilitator Shannon Myers co-led a community event at Pomegranate in San Anselmo on November 15th. The Remembering our Babies Ritual of Light for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Event included yoga, guided meditation and a candle ritual to honor our babies and receive support in our community. Bereaved parents, including HAND parents, were able to support one another in bringing in light as they navigate the holiday season ahead.

Baby Loss Talk at the Nursing Mothers Counsel

On October 29, Leslie Muennemann, a HAND parent since 1988 and a Nursing Mothers Counsel (NMC) volunteer since 1992, gave a presentation on baby loss and grief to a group of over 20 volunteers in training of NMC, at Seqouia Health and Wellness lactation center in Redwood City. NMC is a non-affiliated, non-profit organization whose goal is to help mothers and their babies enjoy a relaxed and happy breastfeeding relationship. Although San Francisco Bay Area based, moms across the country and occasionally internationally use NMC's services, which are provided without fee or obligation.

The Lonely Road

Published: Nov 14, 2016, Glow in the Woods  | Parents of lost babies and potential of all kinds: come to this site to share the technicolour, the vividness, the despair, the heart-broken-open, the compassion, having been through this mess - and see it reflected back at you, acknowledged and understood.

Dear Friends and Family,

I initially wanted to direct this letter to the world in a general sense. From my experience, I can tell you that in all these years, I have received more encouragement, empathy and support from strangers than I have from you, those close to me. So today I want to start by telling you a story…

One day the young woman found herself standing in front of a secluded road. She stumbled across it on a regular day much like today. She didn't know how she'd gotten there, nor where it would lead her. She knew she had to take it so slowly, reluctantly she trod forward. The sky was a dull grey above her, the clouds thick, dark and heavy; as if ready to burst and engulf her at any moment.

She walked alone down that road, her coat wrapped smugly around her. Her ponytail came loose, causing strands of hair to whisk in front of her face. Her boot toes kicked the dry earth as she moved forward slowly. Suddenly, tears streamed down her cheeks. It could have been from the piercing wind that blew in her eyes, but somehow I knew those tears meant more. Seeing her that way made my heart feel heavy.

She looked up at the tall dark fir trees lining the road. So close together, too close, as if leaning on each other for sustenance. Their closeness almost mocked her as she made her way down the road—with no company, against the rampant winds, with a sky that threatened to deluge. The trees continued to sway, having their own deeply meaningful conversations oblivious to her presence.

Still, she moved forward, every step feeling so much heavier than the one she took before, every step into the unknown. There was no end to the walking. She walked until she stumbled, until sand covered her boots, until all she could see was a raging ocean before her. I watched her walk on until her feet drowned in the water, until she was covered up to her knees. I watched as the waves were too strong to hold her. The waves crashed and mounded into each other violently.

Only then did I understand that I couldn't save her. I was her.  

The rain came at me and I stood soaking in my shoes. Every so often, it washed away the tears as it streamed down my face. There were gut-wrenching cries, engulfed by the howling of the wind. The trees swayed violently, concealing my way. The darkness blinded me, surrounded me. I sent pleas for an end; I reached out for something, anything, to steady me. Continue reading...

MP Vicky Foxcroft Gives Moving Speech About Losing Her Baby

Published: Oct 13, 2016, The Guardian

A heartbreaking speech by a Labour MP moved several members of the House of Commons to tears during a debate on stillbirths, as Vicky Foxcroft described being pregnant at 16 and losing her baby after just five days. 
The MP for Lewisham and Deptford said the speech was the hardest she had ever had to give, saying she had felt as a frightened teenager that she was “treated like a kid, not a grieving mum”. Continue reading...

Vicky Foxcroft MP reveals heartbreaking loss of her baby

Births

Sonja Joy Kottke - to Amanda and Nelson Kottke. Remembering baby Esther. 
Thank You for Your Donations
Amanda L. Anderson
Liz and Sean DeWinter (in memory of Wyatt Lee De Winter)
Faye Jennings, Sr. PHN
Nancy Krop and J. Mike Hedblom (in memory of Kendra Krop Hedblom on her 12th birthday)
Patricia Murphy and Lloyd Steadman (in memory of Craig Steadman on his 20th birthday)
Joanne and Michael Regalia
Melissa and John Reitano (in memory of Jack)

 
Emily and John Corpos (in honor of all dedicated volunteers)
Misa and Paul Henthorn (in memory of PJ Henthorn on his birthday)
Eric Kolovson
Roberta Pinheiro and Flavio Oliveira (in memory of Deco Oliveira)
Mary and William Schorr (in memory of Daniel Patrick Schorr)
Tova Slome (in loving memory of Daniel Craig Hernandez on his first birthday)
Diana Young and Yael Maguire (in memory of Dylan Yi Lang Chan)
Make a Donation

Book Spotlight: Grieving the Child I Never Knew

When the anticipation of your child’s birth turns into grief, no words can ease your loss. But there is strength and encouragement in the wisdom of others who have been there. Read more...
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