SGM Day of Remembrance and Hope 2015

YOU ARE INVITED….


SGM Day of Remembrance and Hope 2015
October 10, 2015
9:00am to Noon
Deshler Elementary School
221 E. Maple St.
Deshler, Ohio 43516

REGISTRATION FORM BELOW…please register to include your baby’s name whether attending in person or in spirit.
Information about registering whether you are attending in person or from afar to have a candle lit in your baby’s memory as well as how to submit a photo is found in the last few paragraphs of this section. :)

October is pregnancy and infant loss awareness month. If you have lost a baby or child an any age, you’re invited to join us for a day of Remembrance and Hope on Saturday, October 10, 2015.

We wanted the day to be filled with not just remembrance, but hope and celebration of the lives of our babies. So, we are planning some special activities that are family friendly as well as some activities that are quieter for parents/grandparents, etc.

You can still have your baby’s name included and take part from a distance even if you are not local. Last year we read over 745 names and lit at least that many candles to honor babies around the world. Information about how you can register for the event…whether locally or from a distance can be found at the bottom of this information.

Itinerary

8:45 check-in
9am to 10am Booth activities
in the cafeteria

There will be a special photo booth. You’re encouraged to bring a memorial item, Comfort Bear, etc…something that represents your baby to take a family picture, compliments of SGM.

There will be a cupcake decorating booth to create a cupcake in celebration of your baby.

A Flying Wish Paper booth where you can write a letter, wish, or prayer on paper sent up to heaven.

A Comfort Bear Stuffing Booth

And, a card-making booth to write a special note to go in a Dreams of You package for another family walking through loss.

10-10:15
Balloon Release
(We will be using biodegradeable balloons without strings to be environmentally friendly)

10:20 – Noon
Children will join SGM Support Companion, Emily Smiddy for a movie, story, and activities while adults will go to the auditorium for the duration of the service

We ask that parents not bring children to the auditorium for this portion of the festivities.

10:20- Noon
In the auditorium we will listen to a speaker, light candles for remembrance, watch a special slideshow honoring all the babies submitted with pictures of families with Comfort Bears, pictures and names of babies, etc.

This year we will also have a special HOPE CIRCLE where families will have an opportunity to share their stories and talk together.

JOIN IN FROM ANYWHERE!!

This is going to be such a special day, and we would love to have you join us in person if you’re able. If you cannot make it in person, you can still join in from afar. You can email a picture of your family with your Comfort Bear or another memorial item, or a picture of your baby to be included in our slideshow to: sufficientgraceministries@gmail.com.

You can also fill out the registration form below to have your baby’s name included on the slideshow and to have a candle lit in his/her memory. We will not be reading all the names this year, but we will include them on the candles and they will appear on the slideshow.

Join the Facebook Event Page for updates and to view and post photos!

Register on the form below:

Finding Purpose in the Pain

I have walked with thousands of mothers over the course of the last decade. Mothers who have said goodbye to their sweet babies, who often, after the initial shock and devastation of grief, find themselves longing to mother…to birth something beautiful from the pain, to find the purpose in her child’s life…and through her loss. After all, a mother is made for mothering. That’s what she does. When her baby is not with her, she is left with an ache that begins in her arms and settles deep into her bones.

Through that longing, beautiful organizations are sometimes born. Outreaches that make the experience different for families walking through loss…outreaches that offer hope. Support. Resources. Something beautiful to hold as you endure the missing.

Sufficient Grace Ministries is one of those organizations, but we were not born during fresh grief. It took me many years to wander through my grief wilderness. To heal some of the wounds. To learn who I was again. To feel the pain of and taste the salty tears. Because in the oozing and bubbling up, in the tearing open and pouring out, healing happens. And, it is not a fast process. I had to learn to laugh again, to know the restoration of joy and perseverance of hope planted deeply into the human spirit. We need hope like breath. I needed to see my marriage heal and grow stronger. To nurse babies and nurture my earthly children. I needed to walk awhile in my own shoes before I was ready to walk alongside someone else.

It was eight years after our losses before we started SGM. And, even then, it was not to satisfy my broken…but to reach out to help meet the needs of another grieving mother.

Everyone’s timetable may be different. But, I do get to watch the walk of many in this wilderness, through companioning others in grief. And, one thing I notice is that in our very real need to create beauty from the ruins, sometimes we skip a few steps in our own healing. In a recent article in Still Standing Magazine, I touched briefly on the desire to see purpose born from our pain and loss…purpose from the lives of our children.

“You don’t have to lead an organization or stand in front of a group to see that your baby’s life changed this world. (In fact, sometimes I think in our longing to see a purpose born from pain, mothers can rush into “creating” something. It is good to take time to heal. Joining an already existing organization may be a healthy alternative to building something new in fresh grief.) It doesn’t have to be something giant that the entire world witnesses. You just have to look deeply into the eyes staring back at you in the mirror. You are his mother. You are her mother. Even if right now the pain of that is fresh, know that someday, the gift of that truth…the gift of being their mother…will so outweigh, out value, and overshadow everything else. Don’t be afraid to let it…to embrace it.”

Unfortunately, what sometimes can happen when we create something with a desire to see that purpose, to form a legacy for our children, as the grief moves to the next phase (which often includes a desire to put some of the heavy away and learn to live again), when we enter a new season of our grief, the outreach birthed from the pain can fall away, if the purpose wasn’t built on well-prepared foundation. Some also find, once entering into the wilderness with another grieving heart, that the heaviness is too difficult a burden for shoulders already bending under the weight of fresh pain. While our children are part of the beauty born from outreaches to help others, they and our grief cannot be the sole purpose behind the ministering. We have be ready to minister to the person in front of us, to help carry her bucket. There is a season for that…a season after our own healing…when we are ready to enter in with someone else. But, it is good to take the time to allow that healing…that festering and bubbling up pain, without covering it with a mask…that leads eventually to a stronger foundation, where we’re free to live again. And, ready to tiptoe back into the ocean of grief without drowning ourselves. We have to learn how to swim in this sea for awhile, before we’re ready to help someone else to shore.

If you are feeling the desire, the very REAL longing to birth beauty and healing from your child’s life, there are many healthy ways you can reach out to others. I don’t believe it is effective for us to keep “re-inventing the wheel”. We will help bring about greater change by working together, respecting one another in what is already being built and finding our place in the building process…every single brick has such value and meaning. Everyone has something to contribute.

1. First of all, know that you do not have to start some large organization to bring meaning to your child’s existence. Your sweet baby has already changed the world with his or her time here. In the gentle ways your heart has changed. In the way you cherish every moment of life with those around you. In the way you learn to laugh and live again. Second of all, there are many organizations already in existence you can get involved in. Your local hospital may have needs, or a local support group. You can begin there. I would suggest being part of the support group yourself before trying to start your own. Finding community first is important.

2. Sufficient Grace Ministries has branches throughout the country and we’re looking for others who are well-along in the grief journey and in a place where they are ready to help support a family. We hear from others sometimes who say they were inspired to start an organization after seeing our work. What we would love, if you’re inspired and at a healthy place in your journey, is for you to join with us in this sacred, amazing work. We provide training for birth and bereavement doulas (who receive training from SGM and are also certified through stillbirthday.com), remembrance photographers, crafters of items and more.

You can apply to serve as a birth and bereavement doula or remembrance photographer in an already existing SGM branch in: NW Ohio, NE Ohio, SW Ohio, Columbus, Central Kentucky, St. Louis, Central New Jersey Shore, Massachusetts (near Boston), Maryland, Southern Michigan (Detroit), and possibly New York. Nebraska is also in the works. Just follow the links below to apply and also we will need 2 letters of recommendation.

SGM/SBD Birth and Bereavement Doula (support person to walk alongside families)

SGM Remembrance Photographer

We also have needs for seamstresses to make Comfort Bears and burial gowns and crocheters to make wraps, hats, and gowns.

If you are further along in your grief journey, you can learn about starting a branch of SGM in your area here.

Please note that Sufficient Grace Ministries is a faith-based organization. Although we serve families from all faiths and walks of life without discrimination, we do ask that those serving with us also agree with our Statement of Beliefs.

SBD-SGM

3. If you aren’t looking for faith-based organizations, can get involved in an organization that’s been established, that has helped your family through loss. There are many to choose from, and can be local or online. Many different perspectives are offered at Still Standing Magazine. Stillbirthday.com is a great resource. There are organizations like MEND, Faces of Loss, SANDS, and others.

4. You can create something beautiful with your hands as well. Paint, draw, write, sing. Let it all pour out and mix together until something is birthed from all that’s oozing from you.

5. When you’re ready, listen and show love to one mother. One friend. That is the best way to change the world. One heart at a time. Just being there. Just loving the person in front of you, and helping to meet one need.

6. Some people like to do random acts of kindness in their child’s name. That is a simple and life changing way to see your baby’s life make a difference in someone else’s life. We don’t have to travel the world to find our mission. It is often right in front of us.

No matter what, your child matters. Every life is precious. Every life matters. And, every life impacts this earth greatly.

To Better the Man

Alpha Sig flyerA couple years ago, Ian, one of my son’s best friends, used to sit in my kitchen telling me how fraternities weren’t all about partying and mayhem. He spoke of philanthropy in flowery words filled with conviction. An excellent spinner of the words, I listened to his spiel with a smile and allowed him a slight victory this time. His examples were valid and respect worthy. Still, I wondered as a skeptical and protective mother does.

The years my son and his friends spent in my kitchen, eating and telling their boy stories were the most fun season of my life thus far. It was easy. I felt like they always blessed me more than I ever did for them, even then. They went off to college, and one in the Navy. Sometimes, they come back for visits, and tell their stories again, in my kitchen. Those times are sweet gifts.

Last year, Ian’s fraternity, Alpha Sigma Phi Gamma Zeta Chapter at Bowling Green State University, invited the ladies of SGM to bring our Comfort Bear supplies so they could help us stuff bears for mothers with grieving hearts. We gathered in the middle of their frat house and worked. It was such a blessing. I’ll admit, my heart softened a lot that day toward the idea of a college fraternity. All that I love about grace and way our Jesus accepts us as we are, well making our bears in the middle of a frat house…I think that sounds about right.

Last month, when Ian called me to ask if the gentlemen from Alpha Sig could host a fundraiser/service project for us, we were thrilled with the idea. We would set up in the middle of the student union and students could donate $5 to stuff a Comfort Bear for a grieving mother. So, not only would they be raising money for SGM, but also making bears! The boys worked and planned the event, making beautiful flyers and precious ribbons, all themselves. Those who couldn’t stuff a bear due to time constraints, could donate $2 for a ribbon. Ribbons made with the hands of these fraternity boys. The SGM Comfort Bear Team of six ladies worked hard, as well, cutting and sewing 125 bear shells to be stuffed in less than a month’s time! So grateful to the dedicated and hard-working volunteers at SGM. You ladies rock!

ians ribbon

This is what 125 unstuffed Comfort Bears looks like:
unstuffed bears

We were so excited for Tuesday’s event as Lynette and I loaded the van with stuffing and bears!
stuffing and bears

We arrived to find the gentlemen of Alpha Sig well prepared.
alpha sig boys

Students stopped to inquire about the enticing cute bears, and I listened as college boys explained to each one that these bears would be offered in packets sent by Sufficient Grace Ministries, to comfort grieving moms who have lost a child in pregnancy or at birth. My heart swelled with pride and a myriad of other emotions as I listened to Ian speak words that many seasoned adults would ignore listening to, much less have the courage to speak. Because people don’t want to know that sometimes babies die. Some members of my own family do not come to SGM or speak the names of my children. But the boys from my kitchen know their names. The faces of the students changed when they heard that these bears had such a somber purpose, and one by one, many dug into their wallets to donate $5 to stuff a Comfort Bear.

The managers of Starbucks came to ask about our setup and donated $40 after the gentlemen explained about SGM.
zachwork

three

sweet

quality control

pedro

more stuffing

letters

lauren

group

girls

girls stuffing

danny

cuilin

boys

boys sewing

audrey

anthony2

anthony

 

my hannah
Above is my son’s beautiful girlfriend, Hannah, a student of BGSU and fellow SGM volunteer.

This is my Ian, the young man who used his position as philanthropy chair of Alpha Sigma Phi to make this amazing Build a Bear for Moms event possible. His incredible efforts and hard work, along with his team of brothers and the generous students and staff of BGSU earned $900 for SGM and stuffed 85 Comfort Bears to be sent around the world in Dreams of You care packages!!!! I love him like a son, and could not be more honored by him or proud of him for what he accomplished on Tuesday, and for his willing and beautiful heart to do it.

my ian

The motto of the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity is to Better the Man. On Tuesday, I would say these brave young men took giant steps toward being better men than most. The courage to show compassion, to look on the pain of another and offer something…even if just acknowledgment, to look even when it hurts or makes you feel emotion, the willingness to stand in the gap with another, to lay down your own comfort for someone else, to speak while others remain silent…that is the making of a better man. Those are the kind of men worth following.

Tears fell from my grateful cheeks as I struggled to find the words to convey to these gentlemen what their efforts meant for me and every other parent who has said goodbye to their sweet baby. I still can’t find the words, or stop the tears. The beauty of their hearts and their willingness to stand with us awhile, to offer all they could…well how can a mama find words for what that means to her heart? The ladies of Sufficient Grace Ministries love the gentlemen of Alpha Sigma Phi. And, you boys are welcome in my kitchen anytime. You will always have a place in my heart. Thank you is not nearly enough.

Bereaved parents, this day, the students of BGSU stood with you.
group pic build a bear day

*You can read more thoughts on this day and a bit about another Alpha Sig member named Zeke on my Still Standing post.

More pictures of the event are displayed here.

Supporting a Grieving Mother…What You Can Do…and This Week’s Featured Blogger

I’d like to do something a little different with this Walking With You. There is still a featured blogger listed at the bottom of this post. But, first…some helpful information for someone seeking to offer comfort to a friend or loved one who has lost a child. Please add your own suggestions to the comments of this post. We all know that it is not easy to offer comfort in a situation where there seems to be nothing to say or do to ease the pain.

Supporting a Grieving Mother

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. – 2 Corinthians 1:3-4


It is often very difficult to know how to minister to the needs of a grieving mother who has lost her child. There are no magic words to take away the pain of such a loss, and many find it overwhelming just to look into the face of such suffering. Here are a few suggestions from a mother who has walked this path more than once.

1. Don’t allow the fear of saying or doing the wrong thing keep you from reaching out in love. There are no perfect words. A simple “I’m sorry” and a hug can go a long way.

2. Acknowledge the baby. Refer to the child by name. It is often a blessing to a grieving heart to hear her child’s name spoken. Do not think that talking about him/her will bring the mother more pain. The memory of her baby is always on her mind. Sharing can be a comfort. Be willing to listen. She may need to tell her story over and over again.

3. Those who are grieving are not always able to ask for help. Instead of saying, “Let me know if you need anything,” just do something for the mother and her family. Be available, but also be willing to give space when needed. Bring a meal. Offer to watch the other children for awhile. Come over and sit with her, offering a listening ear.

4. Realize that your friend has been forever changed by the loss of her baby. Don’t expect her to be exactly the same. And please realize that grief has its own time table. Allow her the time she needs, and remain supportive. Everyone grieves differently. Don’t judge her choices or her “performance”. She may not react the same way that you think you would.

5. Avoid clichés such as “You can have more children” or “This was God’s will”. Even words meant to comfort can actually sting a grieving heart like salt poured into an open wound.

 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15


I will be posting a link to this post on our resource page, so that others who visit may find some wisdom from those who have walked this path. Please add your thoughts to the comments.

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Please also take a couple minutes this week to show some love to Purple Moose, mommy to Shelomith, “born straight into the arms of the LORD ~ October 4, 2009″. She is currently expecting her rainbow baby, and could use our love and prayers.