Welcome to the Sweet Pea Project's Blog, part of the Sweet Pea Project's effort to create a supportive and compassionate community for those of us affected by the death of a child. Here you will find updates on the Sweet Pea Project, as well as anything going on in the world that relates to childloss. If you have a suggestion for a topic you would like to see discussed here, I'd love to hear it. Please make sure you stop by the official website, www.sweetpeaproject.org and feel free to email me for any reason at anytime at Stephanie@sweetpeaproject.org.
peace, Stephanie Cole (Madeline's Mom)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Sweet Pea Project's 5th Annual Remembrance Gathering

October 15th is National Remembrance Day for families who have experienced the death of a baby.  In observance of this day, and in honor of all the babies who lived such brief but beautiful lives, Sweet Pea Project is holding its 5th Annual Remembrance Gathering.  The event is free, but registration is required.  Please sign up now at www.sweetpeaproject.org/remember.

Our hearts are both sad and fulfilled as we, the dedicated Sweet Pea Project Board of Directors, announce that this will most likely be our final Remembrance Gathering.  We are proud to have been able to offer this sweet and sacred event for the last five years.  We thank you for allowing us to celebrate the lives of your children and for helping us see our dream of creating a compassionate community for bereaved families turn into a beautiful reality.  As life pushes forward, our family and personal circumstances continue to grow and change, and we have decided to retire this annual event at least for the time being.  We thank you for your support and we look forward to celebrating with you one last time as we remember together, the short but precious lives of our deeply loved and desperately missed little ones. 

As always, the Remembrance Gathering will take place in the grassy field in front of the amphitheater at Long's Park in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Sweet Pea Project volunteers will be handing out balloons from 5pm until 5:45pm and the release will take place promptly at 6pm.  There is ample parking at Long's Park, but you will need to walk a bit to get to the field, so please come early to ensure time to personalize your balloon.  Compostable seed paper will be provided for you to write a small note to your child. The notes will be inserted into the balloons so that when the balloon bursts, the notes will be reclaimed by the earth and wildflowers will sprout out of your love letter to your child.  
We have taken precautions to make sure that this is an eco-friendly event.  For this reason we must insist that you do not bring your own balloons.  Biodegradable sap-based balloons, all natural vegetable dyed raffia and compostable seed paper will be provided.
Thanks to a generous donation from the Robert J. Gunterberg Charitable Foundation, we are once again able to offer two complimentary shirts for each family as a gift from Sweet Pea Project in honor of your beloved baby. Additional T Shirts are available for $5 a piece. The shirts will feature our event logo on the front and include a list of the names of the children we are remembering on the back. If you would like to order shirts please be sure to register no later than September 28.  Registration will remain open after that date, but your child's name will not appear on the shirt, nor will you be able to order any shirts.  Shirts are for attending guests only, no shirts will be mailed.
Singer/songwriter Bobbi Carmitchell will once again be providing beautiful musical accompaniment to our evening.  She has traveled all across the country and even played for presidents, but she always makes time to volunteer her talents for Sweet Pea Project in honor of our children. We are so grateful for her compassion.  Please check out her website at www.bobbicarmitchellmusic.com.
Thank you, and we hope to see you at the park on October 15.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Return to Zero Movie Night & Free Photo Session for Sacred Project

If you are within driving distance to Lancaster, PA, then we hope you will join us on Wednesday, August 13 at 6pm for a special screening of Return to Zero and a Q&A session with the film's director, Sean Hanish.  Sweet Pea Project is partnering with Manheim Township Public Library and Utz Snacks to host this movie night for this unique film, which tells the story of a couple whose son was stillborn. Hanish will answer our guests’ questions during a Q&A Skype session immediately following the movie.  Doors open at 5:45, movie begins promptly at 6pm.  Popcorn and beverages will be provided, guests may bring any other movie snacks/drinks they’d like.  Please do not hesitate to come alone, you will be in a welcoming environment surrounded by others who understand the significance of the movie’s subject.  Please feel free to share this invitation with any relatives, friends, neighbors or coworkers who are interested in joining us and gaining a better understanding of this experience.  Please make sure all guests have registered by August 4th.  Adults only, please. Register at www.sweetpeaproject.org/movienight.  This event is free, donations to help fund Sweet Pea Project's community events will be gratefully accepted at the door.
Grace Photos, Sweet Pea Project's resident photographer, has agreed to come out to the library an hour or so before the movie begins to take photographs for any women who had hoped to participate in the Sacred Project, but had not yet been able to submit a photograph.  The photos will be shot outside in the park, free of charge.  Sign up for your free photo slot when you register to attend movie night, and email Stephanie@sweetpeaproject.org to find out what time to arrive.  If you would like for information about the Sacred Project, please email Stephanie for more details
A little bit about Return to Zero, quoted from their website:
“Return To Zero is based on the true story of a successful couple who are preparing for the arrival of their first child. Just weeks before their due date they are devastated to discover that their baby son has died in the womb and will be stillborn. Maggie and Aaron attempt to go on with their lives but cannot escape their postpartum grief. Their lives and relationship have been forever altered by this loss. They try to cope in a myriad of ways — through denial, escape, and alcohol — but when Maggie ultimately discovers that Aaron is having an affair with a co-worker, she decides to end the marriage. Just when Maggie believes she has started a new life, she discovers that she is pregnant by Aaron (from a last ditch ‘this will save the marriage’ getaway to Vegas.) With the help of an empathetic doctor who experienced a similar loss years ago, Maggie finally grieves for the loss of her son. Then she and Aaron must reunite to face a turbulent and terrifying pregnancy.”

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Poetry Happenings

We have two exciting announcements to share, one for those of you who live near Harrisburg, PA and one for those of you who don't!
First, on June 28, Sweet Pea Project founder Stephanie Paige Cole will join Catherine Bayly, Angie Yingst and Devany LeDrew for a poetry reading, discussion, and book signing for their poetry collection, to linger on hot coals.  The discussion will focus on poetry as a tool for shaping perspectives on the complex emotional world that emerges after the loss of a loved one.  Each writer will briefly discuss a prominent theme or poetic device in her work and the practical and theoretical implications of that idea in her evolution through grief. Then the floor will be opened for a Q&A.  The event will officially run from 2 to 4 pm; the discussion will be from 2:30 to 3:30 pm, with book signing before and after. Copies of the book will be available for purchase.  This lovely, and free, event will take place at Midtown Scholar Bookstore, an independent bookstore that is housed in a gorgeous old theatre in downtown Harrisburg. We are so grateful to Midtown Scholar for believing in this book, since poetry books on the subject of infant loss are not your typical hot sellers. We have attached a flier to this email, please help us spread the word by sharing it with anyone who might be interested, and please come out on June 28th to grab a coffee and say hello to Stephanie, Catherine, Angie & Devany. Let's show Midtown Scholar that they were right to take a chance with our community!

And second, since we understand that many of you do not live anywhere near Harrisburg, PA, Stephanie and Catherine would like to invite you to consider having them bring a poetry reading, or other event, to your town!  The two have collaborated on many projects together, and are enjoying their recent speaking and signing engagements as co-editors of to linger on hot coals: collected poetic works from grieving women writers. The two have been addressing both the bereaved community and the literary community at large, discussing poetry as an integral part of the grief process and a powerful tool in shaping our lives.  They are excited to be able to further share their work with others by participating in book signings, readings, discussions, speaking engagements and workshops for bereaved individuals and those who care for them. If you are interested in bringing them to your town, please follow this link to the request form and someone will respond to you soon.  Learn more about this book, and its fourteen incredible contributors, at www.tolingeronhotcoals.com.
Thank you, and we hope you are having a gentle evening.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Still a Mother

I just wanted to take a moment to reach out to you on a weekend that can feel so complicated for all of us who hold our children in our hearts instead of our arms.  For many of us, Mother's Day is bittersweet.  For some it is just bitter.  That's ok, we've all been there.  If you are there, I hope that some sweetness finds its way to your heart soon.  Remember that you are still a mother.  That title is irreversible and that love does not disappear. 
I am honored to be able to share a new poem with you today.  It is my favorite piece I have written, because Madeline is still alive during most of the poem.  It speaks to the full truth of motherhood, and I hope it speaks to your heart as well.  The poem, entitled "The Ballad of the Firstborn", was published today over at Still Standing Magazine, and includes a video of me reading the poem at Mulberry Art Studios.  Please take a moment to read it and please feel free to share it forward, it would mean so much to me.  You can find it at http://stillstandingmag.com/2014/05/ballad-first-born/ or on Still Standing Magazine's facebook page.
As we do each year, we are holding our "Still a Mother" giveaway from now until midnight on Mother's Day, May 11.  This year we are giving away 5 copies of Still and 1 copy of to linger on hot coals.  6 winners will be randomly selected and announced on Monday, May 12.  To enter, please email the words "STILL A MOTHER" to Stephanie@sweetpeaproject.org.  Be sure to include your name, your child's name (or nickname) and your mailing address in case you win.  One entry per person, please.  The flier is posted below, please feel free to share it.

Last year I wrote a piece for our blog about the origins of Mother's Day and I would like to re-share with you in case you are new to our community.  You can read that here: http://sweetpeaproject.blogspot.com/2013/05/mothers-day-erma-bombeck.html 
I would also like to invite you spend a little time wandering through The Secret Garden at Sweet Pea Project where you will find beautiful flowers and quotes that we hope may speak to your heart.  You can find the garden at www.sweetpeaproject.org/secretgarden as well as on Sweet Pea Project's facebook page.
I hope tomorrow is a gentle on your heart.
Much love,
Stephanie Paige Cole

Monday, April 28, 2014

Sweet Pea Sisters & Brothers Picnic Reminder

Over 350 guests have already signed up for Sweet Pea Project's 4th Annual Sweet Pea Sisters & Brothers Picnic- happening at Lititz Springs Park on Saturday, June 7th from 4pm until 7pm- but there is still room for you and your family! If you plan to join us at the picnic, please reserve your family's spot today back clicking on REGISTRATION FORM on our picnic page, www.sweetpeaproject.org/picnic.  Registration closes on Wednesday, April 30th.  If you are ordering picnic shirts, please be sure you have done so by Wednesday.  Donations to cover additional shirts can be sent to us via paypal (using Stephanie@sweetpeaproject.org as the recipient, with a notation that mentions "picnic shirts" and your name) or by check.  Our mailing address is Sweet Pea Project - PO Box 10351 - Lancaster, PA 17605.
Stephanie was recently interviewed on Good Day PA about the picnic.  If you didn't catch the live broadcast, you can watch the segment online by following this link: http://www.abc27.com/video?clipId=10051648&autostart=true
We hope to see you at the park in June!  We'll be serving up a delicious picnic dinner from Rettew's Catering, and there will be lots of dessert, entertainment and family fun activities.  Rita's Italian ice will be handing out free ice, Dancing Bears Music will be performing on the bandshell stage, Ronice Kay Photography will be doing free family portraits, Bob's Critters will be doing live animal demonstrations, Acts of Jennius will be leading kids in some hula-hooping fun with her Spinspiration Hoop Troupe, Country Conjuring will be performing magic tricks and Tony the Balunguy will be making balloon animals.  We'll be offering various arts and crafts projects, face-painting, a bounce house, and children will be able to plant flowers from Shenk's Greenhouse.  Grace Photos will be on hand to capture images of the festivities, all of which will be available to our guests after the event.  And our list of free prizes is the best it has ever been!  We'll continue to announce activities as the event date approaches, so be sure to check out www.sweetpeaproject.org/picnic for more!
Questions?  Please feel free to email Beth@sweetpeaproject.org or Stephanie@sweetpeaproject.org at any time.  Hope to see you soon!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Sweet Pea Project's 4th Annual Sweet Pea Sisters & Brothers Picnic

There is no greater pain for a parent than the pain of outliving their child.  But we parents are not the only ones who suffer.  The death of a baby can be very difficult on our surviving children, and even our subsequent children. These kids witness their parents wrestling with overwhelming grief, and struggle with their own feelings of sadness and confusion. They deserve a day just to be carefree children, playing with their parents in the sunshine and having fun, and that is what our annual picnic is all about.
Sweet Pea Project will hold this special event for children who have lost a brother or sister during pregnancy or infancy on Saturday, June 7th, 2014.  Parents are invited to bring their surviving and subsequent children to Lititz Springs Park in Lititz, PA, from 4pm-7pm to play, eat, and enjoy each other's company.  This event is free but registration is required.  To register, go to www.sweetpeaproject.org/picnic and click on Picnic Registration Form! Registration will close on April 30.

Just as we did in years past, we will be offering tons of food and family fun activities.  Rita's Italian ice will be handing out free ice, Dancing Bears Music will be performing on the bandshell stage, Ronice Kay Photography will be doing free family portraits, Bob's Critters will be doing live animal demonstrations, Acts of Jennius will be leading kids in some hula-hooping fun, Country Conjuring will be performing magic tricks and Tony the Balunguy will be making balloon animals.  We'll be offering various arts and crafts projects, face-painting, a bounce house, and children will be able to plant flowers from Shenk's Greenhouse.  We'll be serving a picnic dinner and dessert, so bring your appetites!  Grace Photos will be on hand to capture images of the festivities, all of which will be available to our guests after the event.  We'll continue to announce activities as the event date approaches, so be sure to check out www.sweetpeaproject.org/picnic for more!

The idea for the Sweet Pea Sisters & Brothers Picnic came about after Beth Gauthier and Nicole Jackson joined the board of directors in 2010. Both had older children who grieved along side of them when their sons were stillborn and each have had another baby since then. Though support groups exist for parents, very little is offered for children. Sweet Pea Project is excited to be able to reach out to these children through this annual picnic, in honor of Mark and Max.

Monday, March 24, 2014

5k, poetry photos & more!

We are so excited to announce the first ever 5k to benefit Sweet Pea Project!  Kat's 5k Family Run/Walk Presented by Friends of Angels will be held in Strasburg, PA on Saturday, May 10, 2014.  It will be a fun-filled morning to remember our little ones and raise awareness and funds for Sweet Pea Project.  There will be children's activities, music, food, and awards for top race finishers!  See the flier above for more details and registration info.  Please consider drumming up support in honor of your little one by creating a team and running/walking with friends/family.  You can also collect donations from non-participants and send them directly to Sweet Pea Project, and your child's name will be added to a big sign on race day.  Sweet Pea Project will even give a prize to the team that raises the most funds!  Donations should be made payable to Sweet Pea Project, with a notation on the check or in the paypal notes field that says "5k" and the name of the child.  All donations are tax deductible.  I'll be out there running (ok, walking) for Team Madeline, and I would love to see a ton of you there!  If you are unable to participate, but would like your child's name included on the sign, please email Chris@friendofangels.org- no donation necessary.  *Please Note: Every runner/walker MUST fill out their own individual registration form in order to participate in the 5k.  Register today at https://www.pretzelcitysports.com/onlineform1.php?id=467.
Also exciting- I was recently interviewed on live TV in the Author Spotlight Segment of Good Day PA.  During the interview we talked about Sweet Pea Project, my books, and, most importantly, my daughter.  You can catch the segment online at http://www.abc27.com/story/24808569/author-spotlight-to-linger-on-hot-coals, and be sure to tune in on April 14th when I return to the studio to discuss the needs of children who have lost a sibling and the ways in which Sweet Pea Project reaches out to those kids.
I also want to thank everyone who came out to celebrate the release of my new book, to linger on hot coals (www.tolingeronhotcoals.com), with me at our poetry gathering a few weeks ago.  It was a beautiful afternoon, made even more sacred by the 162 candles that lit the space with love. A video of the candles is now up on youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2OvCTfD8Qs0, if you'd like to check it out. Individual candle images and candids of the poets and the event can be found on the facebook pages for Sweet Pea Project & to linger on hot coals.  We are so grateful to Loving Memories Photography for donating these beautiful images. If you had a candle lit for your little one and would like to download your free high resolution jpg or order prints/enlargements of the candle image, please email me for details at Stephanie@sweetpeaproject.org.
Lastly, for those of you who have surviving or subsequent children who would like to participate in a fun event to remember their brother/sister, please mark your calendar for the 4th Annual Sweet Pea Sisters & Brothers Picnic on Saturday, June 7th, 2014.  Registration forms and event details will be coming out soon!
Hope you are all having a gentle afternoon.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Still Standing Magazine, People & Perspective, & More!

We are excited to share with you that an essay about E.E. Cummings and the cells of our sweet babies, written by Sweet Pea Project's own Stephanie Paige Cole, was published today in Still Standing Magazine.  You can click here to read the essay: http://stillstandingmag.com/2014/02/changed/ and please feel free to hop over to the magazine's facebook page to share your thoughts on the piece.
This is also a very exciting week for us over here at Sweet Pea Project.  Stephanie and Catherine Bayly, the editors of to linger on hot coals, were on the People & Perspectives radio show this morning for a 20 minute long interview on the book, Sweet Pea Project, and the ways in which we continue to parent our children.  The segment was broadcasted on 4 stations, but if you missed it you can listen now at http://chirb.it/9I8tDp.  Stephanie will also be interviewed on live TV on Good Day PA tomorrow!  We'll be posting a link to that interview on the In The News  page on our website, so check back soon for that.
And last, we want to remind you that it is now just 2 weeks until Sweet Pea Project's Poetic Gathering, presented by OBGYN of Lancaster, at Mulberry Art Studios on March 8.  Food For Thought Catering will be putting together a delicious spread of food, and we want to be sure we have enough for everyone, so please click on the link at www.sweetpeaproject.org/poetrywww.sweetpeaproject.org/poetry and let us know if you plan to attend this beautiful, free event.

We hope you are all having a peaceful weekend.

Friday, February 14, 2014

to linger on hot coals poetic gathering

Hi friends! We are so excited about our next community event- Sweet Pea Project's to linger on hot coals poetic gathering presented by OBGYN of Lancaster. We are just 3 weeks away from this lovely little gathering and want to make sure we have enough books and refreshments, so please click over to https://hotcoalspoetry.wufoo.com/forms/to-linger-on-hot-coals-poetic-gathering/ and let us know if you plan to attend. 

We hope you will join us at 1pm on Saturday, March 8 at the beautiful Mulberry Art Studios in downtown Lancaster for an afternoon of poetry, music, and community in a candle-lit art gallery. From 1pm-2pm you can mingle and relax with a glass of wine and a plate of delicious hors d'oeuvres served by Food For Thought Catering, while listening to the gently strummed guitar of singer/songwriter Bobbi Carmitchell.  156 candles, each with the name of a deeply loved and missed child handwritten on it, will be lighting the gallery.  Copies of to linger on hot coals will be available, and several of the contributors will be signing books and chatting with guests.

At 2pm, Dr Joanne Cacciatore- founder of the MISS Foundation and Center For Loss & Trauma- will open with a short presentation via video about her involvement in to linger on hot coals. The poetry reading will immediately follow and will include pieces from each of the to linger on hot coals contributors. Angie Yingst, Devany LeDrew, Catherine Bayly and Stephanie Paige Cole will read live in the gallery and, since they live much too far away to attend in person, Kara LC Jones, Sherokee Ilse, Laura Seftel, Carly Dudley, Tara Hart, Beth Morey, Amy McCarter, Hannah Logan Morris and Anne Morris will share their poems with us via video projected on the gallery wall.

Learn more about to linger on hot coals, which was released a few weeks ago and is already receiving some amazing reviews from high profile members of our community, at www.tolingeronhotcoals.com.

Thank you to our event sponsors: OBGYN of Lancaster, Food For Thought Catering, Mulberry Art Studios, Loving Memories Photography & Continental Inn!

(PS... Think warm thoughts and save the date for our next community event: 4th Annual Sweet Pea Sisters & Brothers Picnic at Lititz Springs Park on June 7!)

Monday, January 27, 2014

New book available now!

I am beyond excited to announce to you that my second book, to linger on hot coals: collected poetic works from grieving women writers, was released on January 24th and is now available for purchase!  It will be released as an eBook in the near future, and is currently available as a paperback on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.  Here are more details about the book, and I will paste the links in at the bottom of this email for those of you who may be interested in checking it out.  Thank you so much for your support of my work.

Poets explore the lasting effects of grief in new anthology released January 2014

“Most of the time, we consider grief ugly, and most of the time it is.  But, sometimes you find something that moves that kind of loss beyond horror to something clear and pristinely honest— beautiful… Stephanie Paige Cole and Catherine Bayly have collected a deeply beautiful gift of poetry in to linger on hot coals.”  -Melissa Miles McCarter, Editor of Joy, Interrupted

to linger on hot coals was born from the imaginations and lives of two mothers.  Artist-writer, Stephanie Paige Cole, and poet-teacher, Catherine Bayly, crafted their brain child in memory of their first daughters, Madeline and Sophie.  Both girls were stillborn at full term, and the experience of mothering their memories became paramount in the writing and daily lives of their mothers.  As the years passed, the need to mother them has changed, but the desire to keep them at the center of Cole and Bayly’s work has remained.

This book represents a multitude of women’s voices, at various stages of grief-mothering.  Within the pages you’ll find raw cerebral iterations of the infinite ripple effects of grief and the raw visceral howls of grief’s earliest days.  Cole and Bayly hope the book will take part in an ongoing complex conversation about motherhood and work—and that it will speak to the hearts and minds of those mothers who’ve lost.

to linger on hot coals features a powerful foreword by MISS founder, Dr. Joanne Cacciatore, and poetry from Cole and Bayly along with Kara LC Jones, Angie Yingst, Sherokee Ilse, Laura Seftel, Carly Dudley, Tara Hart, Beth Morey, Amy McCarter, Hannah Logan Morris, Devany LeDrew and Anne Morris.

More information about this book can be found online at www.tolingeronhotcoals.com.

Order your copy today on Amazon or Barnes & Noble

And I hope you will all join us on Saturday, March 8 at 1pm for a free community gathering to celebrate the release of this sweet and sacred little book.  Details about Sweet Pea Project's to linger on hot coals poetic gathering can be found at www.sweetpeaproject.org/poetry.

Again, thank you for all your support as we work together to create a more compassionate community for the families left behind after the death of a beloved child.