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)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Unity Award

We are all excited over here at Sweet Pea Project, because we just received the news that our own Stephanie Cole has been nominated for the Unity Award for Moms Making a Difference.  This award is given by the nonprofit organization MASK, a group of dedicated mothers who recognize the need to consistently educated families on rapidly changing issues.  The winner of the Unity Award will receive a large spread in MASK the Magazine.  It is a wonderful opportunity for Sweet Pea Project, for bereaved parents all across the country, to have their voices heard.  We'd be bringing the topic of infant death, a topic that is still so very taboo in many parenting circles and publications, into the spotlight.  Please help us by voting for Stephanie and sharing this with you friends.  You can vote once a day, every day, from now until Feb 1, 2013.  Thank you for your support!

Here is the link:


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Announcing Sweet Pea Project's Winter Book Drive

Winter tends to feel a little bit colder and a little bit darker over here at Sweet Pea Project.  It is a heavy season for our board of directors.  Nicole's son died in December.  Stephanie's daughter died in January.  Beth's son died in February.  The urge to shut down and hibernate like a big furry bear can be pretty strong this time of year.  This winter we have decided to do something special to honor our children during the months that hold both their births and their deaths.  And we'd like to invite you to join us and allow us the privilege of honoring your children along with ours, through Sweet Pea Project's Winter Book Drive.

Sweet Pea Project’s Winter Book Drive begins on December 1, 2012 and ends on February 28, 2013.  During this time, we will be accepting donations in increments of $5 to go toward our book donation program.  For every $5 you contribute, one book will be donated in your child’s name to a newly bereaved parent.  A special bookplate will be placed in the front cover of the book dedicating it in your child’s honor.  Pictures of these bookplates can be found at www.sweetpeaproject.org/winterbookdrive.  Please feel free to share this website and the flier (pictured above) with your friends and family.  There are many people in our lives, I think, who would love to help but simply don't know what to do or say.  This is a great way to involve them in your child’s remembrance. 

To participate, simply send your donation to Sweet Pea Project by check, credit card or PayPal.  Be sure to note that your donation is for the Winter Book Drive and be certain to include your child’s name just as you’d like it to appear on the bookplate.  As always, your donation to Sweet Pea Project is tax deductible.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Stephanie@sweetpeaproject.org.

Holding all of you and your children close to our hearts throughout this holiday season and wishing you peace,
Stephanie Cole & the Sweet Pea Project team

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Discovery Toys "Party" to Benefit Sweet Pea Project

Make the money you spend on Christmas shopping go further this year. When you do your holiday shopping at Discovery Toys through this event from now until December 1st, 20% of your purchase will go directly to Sweet Pea Project.

Click on the following link to place your order: http://www.discoverytoys.com/publicstore/event/8748/default.aspx

Please call Crystal Meashey at 717-314-9629 or email crystalelaine10@hotmail.com if you would like her to place your order instead of ordering online.

Click on the flier to enlarge.  Please feel free to share our flier and this event with all your friends and family.  Thank you so very much for your support.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Remembrance Day, Gifts that Give Hope & Fueling Good!

I hope your October was wonderful, and you found peaceful ways to honor your child during National Remembrance Month.  We celebrated with our 3rd Annual Remembrance Gathering, along with several hundred of you, and it was a sweet and sacred evening.  The rain subsided, the clouds moved aside to allow a beautiful pink sunset to shine on us as we read each baby's name aloud and release balloon after balloon into the sky.  A video from the evening can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOZkFbqgjvg if you would like to take a glimpse of the event.  All the images from our talented photographer, Valerie Smith of Grace Photos, have been uploaded to our shutterfly album (www.sweetpeaproject.shutterfly.com) so guests can feel free to browse through the album.  Thank you to everyone who helped make our 3rd annual gathering so very beautiful and we hope to see you again next October.

The holidays are now approaching, and that is something that weighs heavy on my heart as a bereaved mother.  The shopping for frivolous gifts is just not something I find enjoyable anymore.  That is why I am so proud to have been asked once again to team up with Gifts That Give Hope for Lancaster's Alternative Gift Fair.  Sweet Pea Project is offering "gifts" at three different price levels, and will be donating books, blankets and offering comfort and support to bereaved families around the world with each dollar spent at this special holiday fair.  If you live nearby, please stop in and join us on Saturday, November 17th from 10am until 4pm.  If you live out of the area or are unable to join us, you can still participate and give the gift of comfort to a bereaved family buy shopping online at http://www.giftsthatgivehope.org/lancaster/index.php?pg=shop.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions at all.

And lastly, a quick favor: Sweet Pea Project has been selected as one of Citgo's Fueling Good Charities, and we are in the running to win $5000.  If you have a spare moment would be please consider voting for Sweet Pea Project?  Voting is simple, they just need your email address and you can opt out of sharing that info with citgo.  You can vote once a day, every day, from now until November 28.  The link is http://fuelinggood.com/rewardinggood?id=1323911

Thank you so much for your support, and for helping us as we continue to strive to create a more compassionate community.

Stephanie Cole

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Sweet Pea Project's 3rd Annual Remembrance Gathering

As we have do each year, Sweet Pea Project will be holding a Remembrance Gathering on October 15, which is National Remembrance Day for babies who die during pregnancy or infancy, at Long's Park in Lancaster, PA.  This gathering offers families a chance to come together and remember their children as a community and to celebrate their short but precious lives.  We would be honored to have you join us as we gather together to listen to the beautiful music of our children's name spoken out loud in a field filled with love and green balloons.  For more information please visit www.sweetpeaproject.org/remember

Sweet Pea Project's 3rd Annual Remembrance Gathering is a free event that is open to the community, but registration is requested. This year we will be offering T shirts commemorating the event.  Two complimentary shirts will be given to each family as a gift from Sweet Pea Project in honor of your beloved baby.  The shirts will include a list of the names of the children we are remembering on the back.  If you would like to receive your complimentary shirts and have your child's name appear on the shirts, please include the following information in your registration email and send it to Nicole@sweetpeaproject.org no later than October 1st. 

1. The name of the child(ren) you are remembering (exactly as you would like it read during the balloon release)

2. The number of balloons your family will need  (*Please note: Each guest may receive one balloon per child remembered. For example, if your family of 4 is remembering twins you may request 8 balloons

3. Your child(ren)'s name exactly as you would like it written on the shirt
4. Your shirt sizes (available in Youth Small through Adult 3X)

Additional shirts can be ordered for a donation of $5 to Sweet Pea Project.  Orders must be received by October 1st.  To order additional shirts please email your sizes to Nicole and send the donation via paypal to Stephanie@sweetpeaproject or by check to
Sweet Pea Project
Attn: Shirt Order
PO Box 10351
Lancaster, PA 17605-0351

Registration for the Remembrance Gathering will remain open until October 14, but complimentary shirts and inclusion of your child's name on the shirts will not be available after October 1st.  Please visit www.sweetpeaproject.org/register for more details.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Hosting a Sweet Pea Project affiliated Remembrance Gathering

Each year on October 15, Sweet Pea Project holds our Annual Remembrance Gathering.  The evening begins with families writing notes on small squares of handmade paper that has wildflower seeds embedded in it.  The notes are then tucked inside sap-based biodegradable balloons.  When they burst, the notes will be reclaimed by the earth and wildflowers will sprout out of our love letters to our children.  Quiet music is played (this year we have a guitarist, last year we had bass and mandolin) as each name is read aloud, and balloons are released one by one.  It is breathtakingly beautiful to watch the balloons join one another in the sky, though it always tugs on my heart to see so many up there.

It is always a meaningful evening, and what is extra touching is the fact that several other remembrance gatherings occur along with ours, all across the country (and even internationally!)   We really hope that happens again this year.  Summer is flying by and autumn will be here before you know it, which means it is already time to start thinking about this year's event. 

Because Sweet Pea Project is a federally recognized 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, we are officially on the radar and can be held liable for things associated with our name and so we need to handle the details of our affiliated events carefully.  As we did last year, we are asking all remembrance gatherings that wish to affiliate themselves with us (and we really hope you do!) to order their supplies directly through us.  This will allow us to be certain that all supplies used meet our eco-friendly standards, and it will also be more cost effective for you since we will be able to save money by ordering in bulk.  For $35 (for US events, slightly more for international events due to shipping costs) you will receive biodegradable balloons, raffia and seed paper for 100 guests.  You are welcome to order as much as you need, we just ask that all requests be made no later than September 1st because our paper supplier is in Canada and we want to make sure everything arrives in time.
Sweet Pea Project will help promote your event by mentioning it in our own press release, announcing it on our facebook page and adding it to our event page www.sweetpeaproject.org/remember.  If you create a facebook event page we will add links to that from our website as well.  I will also be happy to design a postcard/flier for your event if you would like, though you are free to create your own if you would prefer.  Please use wording such as "Lancaster's Remembrance Gathering in affiliation with Sweet Pea Project" or something to that effect.

You will want to consider finding an approved venue for the gathering and check your local laws for balloon releases, even though ours is eco-friendly some locations may still not allow it.  The date for your gathering must be Monday, October 15, 2012.  Part of what makes this such a beautiful event is knowing that even though we are in different parts of the world, we are all standing together remembering these children, and so it is important that we are all doing it on October 15, National Remembrance Day. 

You will also be responsible for the helium.  We were able to find a local grocery store that was willing to donate their tank to us last year, ask around and explain what you need it for and you might be able to get a donation or a good deal. 

I am really looking forward to this year's event.  It is so wonderful to know that there are others all across the country stopping and looking up to the sky, remembering our children in unison that evening.  I really hope you will be a part of this again this year.  If you have any questions at all please do not hesitate to contact Stephanie@sweetpeaproject.org.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

UTPAIL Auction

United Through Pregnancy and Infant Loss will be hosting an online fundraising auction during August. The auction will kick off at 9:00am EST on Wednesday, August 15th and end at 9:00pm EST on Wednesday, August 22nd. All proceeds will be split between UTPAIL & Sweet Pea Project. UTPAIL will be using their portion of funds towards their love-packages sent to bereaved families. Sweet Pea Project will be using their portion of funds to further the reach of their blanket and book donation programs. We would be delighted if you can find some time to visit www.facebook.com/utpail during the dates above to bid on various one of a kind items from unique vendors across the world! Not only will you be picking up some great deals, but you also have the opportunity to make a difference in a family's journey through grief. For more detailed information, please visit this link: http://utpail.webs.com/apps/donations/campaigns/67577.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Kindness Day

In observance of the MISS Foundation's International Kindness Project Day, Sweet Pea Project will be donating 18 copies of Still. to bereaved parents.  Simply email the word "Kindness" to Stephanie@sweetpeaproject.org with your name and address (and your baby's name if you are comfortable sharing) by midnight on Saturday, July 28.  18 emails will be selected at random on Sunday morning.  Hope you are all having a kind and peaceful day.

Learn more about this beautiful day of kindness and remembrance at http://missfoundation.org/kindness/index.html.

Thank you to Dr. Joanne Cacciatore for all that she has done for our community, and to Cheyenne for being the inspiration behind it all.  You two girls are amazing.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Stephanie's Guest Author piece in UTPAIL's Newsletter

The following is a guest author piece which was written by Stephanie Paige Cole and published in UTPAIL's Summer 2012 Newsletter.  (I have pasted the text to the bottom of this post in case you are unable to read from the images I posted directly from the newsletter.)

In the spring of 2006 I became pregnant with my first child.  I was elated to discover the sweet pea growing inside of me was the daughter I had spent my childhood dreaming of.  I named her Madeline, read stories to her in my belly and fell head over heels in love with her.  I sailed through 40 weeks of beautiful, complication-free pregnancy and then- the unimaginable happened.  Six days after my due date, Madeline died.  I delivered her the next day, January 5, 2007.  She had dark brown hair and big brown eyes.  High cheekbones like me.  Long, delicate fingers that wrapped around my own as I held her close, breathed in her sweet baby smell and cried.  She was perfect, healthy and beautiful.  We never found out why she died. 

Madeline's death shook me to my very core.  I had a difficult time returning to my life, because I had rearranged it for motherhood.  Not only did I lose my daughter, I lost myself.  My purpose.  I was a mother with no child.  I had quit my job to be a stay at home mom.  I had transformed my art room into a nursery with sage green patchwork decor and teddy bears.  And all the new friends I had made in prenatal yoga and birthing classes were tending to newborns now.  I was lost and alone. 
I filled the empty days of that winter by writing.  I found it easier to fall asleep at night if I purged the emotions that were ricocheting around inside of me onto the pages of my journal.  I wrote out my hurt, my anger, my devastation, my longing.  My love.  My hope.  My deep, dark sadness.  There were pages of angry scribbles and line after line of "I want her back I want her back I want her back I want her back."  I wrote letters to Madeline.  Love letters.  Apologies.  Poetry. 

I painted a lot, too, and sculpted.  Controlling the clay, when there was so little in life that I had control over, was refreshing.  And painting allowed me to release those emotions that words are simply not able to express.  There were so many nights during that first dark year without Madeline when I would sneak out of bed in the middle of the night, feeling suffocated by the silence of our baby-less home, to sit at a canvas and paint out all that I could not speak. 

Out of these journal entries, poems, paintings and sculptures emerged an intimate portrait of a life after the death of a baby, and slowly it evolved into a book.  That book, Still: a collection of honest artwork & writings from the heart of a grieving mother, was published in 2010 and quickly became a must read for parents who lost a child as well as the medical professionals who care for them.

I always had a love of writing, but never expected to become an author.  Even as Still. was being created, I didn’t feel as though I was writing a book.  It was my journal, my canvas.  It was a way for me to express all that I could not say out loud.  I decided to publish it in the hope that it would help break the silence of stillbirth.  I wanted to give other bereaved parents something they could relate to, to help them feel less alone in their despair.  I also wanted to offer a deeper understanding to those who haven’t experienced such a loss so that they would be better able to support those who have.  There is such a stigma attached to stillbirth, nobody wants to talk about it, but this is a story that needs to be told.  Nobody should have to suffer in silence.  I want to begin a conversation that will ultimately allow other bereaved mothers to feel confident in speaking about the full truth of their motherhood.

To learn more about Stephanie Paige Cole, author of Still. and founder of the nonprofit organization Sweet Pea Project, please visit www.sweetpeaproject.org.  Find your copy of Still. at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com or through Sweet Pea Project.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Family Portraits at the Picnic!

Have you had your family portrait taken since the death of your baby? Did you do/bring/wear something special to remember your baby in that photograph? Comment here or email me at Stephanie@sweetpeaproject.org and we will add your ideas to our Honoring Your Baby page on Sweet Pea Project's website.

photo by Molly S Photography, Sweet Pea Sisters & Brothers Picnic 2011

Family portraits can be a beautiful keepsake, but for families who have experienced the death of a child they can also be the source of anxiety and heartache. I struggled with the idea of a "family portrait" for a long time because while I wanted that cherished photograph of my husband and I with our beautiful children, it felt incomplete because one of my children was missing. I know I am not alone in feeling this way, many bereaved parents have expressed these same sentiments to me. And it is for this reason that we will be offering free family portrait sittings at the 2nd Annual Sweet Pea Sisters & Brothers Picnic this summer. Krisha Martzall Photography has very generously agreed to do a short session with each family at the picnic and will provide one image completely free. I am so very grateful to Krisha for giving the families in our community such a meaningful gift, and I encourage you to find a special way to include your little one in your photograph. One easy way is to wear your picnic shirts with your child's name emblazoned across the back. (If you haven't already done so, make sure you place your order by May 25. Order form can be found at www.sweetpeaproject.org/picnic/registration.) Children can also wear necklaces and bracelets with their sibling's name spelled out in beads, we'll be making those at the craft pavilion from 4-6pm. Maybe there is a stuffed animal or something special from home you would like to bring to include in the photograph. Or maybe you don't need anything at all. Maybe it is enough that you have set this day aside to spend time together as a family and remember the little girl or boy who you will always carry in your heart, and you will remember that every time you look at the picture. Either way, we hope that you will take advantage of this opportunity to create a lasting memory with your family. See you at the park in a few weeks!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Reflections on Mother's Day

Last Sunday was International Bereaved Mothers Day and next Sunday is Mother's Day. I was reflecting on these two sacred days the other night, and thought I'd share my thoughts here: Bereaved Mother's Day is not a replacement for Mother's Day. It is an addition to it. The traditional Mother's Day is still very much our day. And when you dive into the history of the holiday and check out the true intention behind the day, it becomes evident that it is perhaps ours even more than the average happy-go-lucky-mom (if there is such a woman.) It began as a peace protest by Julia Ward Howe, who was tired of seeing mothers lose their sons to war. She spoke of grieving mothers in her declaration for Mother's Day of Peace. Grieving mothers, that's us. I appreciate IBMD and all that Carly has done for our community, I will celebrate it and feel honored by it- but I do not need it. Because the real Mother's Day is mine. I earned it four times over, with each heart that began beating beneath mine. And no matter how your children came to you and no matter how long their lifetime lasted, they are yours and this day they designate as Mother's Day... that's yours, too.

If you've been part of our community here at Sweet Pea Project for awhile now, you have undoubtedly read the piece I wrote about Mother's Day and the history lesson that beautiful mama Kara LC Jones gave me a few years ago, but I am reposting it below for those who are new here. Please feel free to share far and wide, and be sure to visit Kara's page to dig deeper.

I hope Mother's Day, and the days leading up to it, are gentle on you.

May 8, 2010

Well, there is no escaping it. Tomorrow is Mother's Day.

For those of you who lost your only child or who are facing their first Mother's Day since their child's death, tomorrow will no doubt be a difficult day. The memory of my first Mother's Day without Madeline is still heavy in my heart. I wanted to just ignore it, but I was constantly ambushed by junkmail advertisements, displays in stores, and commercials on the radio and TV. I found myself questioning if I really was a mother, if I even deserved this day at all. Of course I knew in my heart that I was a mother, but I felt like society considered me disqualified since I had no little ones to scribble "I love you" on construction paper or make me a messy breakfast in bed.

If I only had known then what I know now. You see, since then I have met
Kara LC Jones of KotaPress and MotherHenna, and she gave me a little history lesson. Mother's Day is not just a meaningless Hallmark Holiday. It began as a peace protest in 1870 by Julia Ward Howe, who was sick of seeing mothers lose their sons to war. When I read the line in Howe's proclamation that says, "Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead," I couldn't help but feel empowered. I remembered how I felt that first Mother's Day, when everyone else was off celebrating while I stayed in bed to cry alone and then later when my husband and I hiked through the woods to a little meadow where we planted five saplings for Madeline, thanking her for making me a mother. I had felt like such an outcast at the time, but now I look back and am struck by the fact that I was the one celebrating the true nature of Mother's Day. It is not about going out to brunch, it is about honoring the entire experience of motherhood. Kara puts it perfectly when she says, "I'll celebrate with you as long as you will first mourn with me. It is the combination of the two that lends itself to the true meaning of Mothers Day!"

To read Kara's entire article on this topic, including the speech Julia Ward Howe gave in Boston in 1870, please visit the following page:
Wishing you all a gentle Mother's Day of Peace tomorrow in honor of every mother of every child, living or dead.


Madeline's Mommy, Stephanie Cole

Monday, April 30, 2012

Still a Mother

Sweet Pea Project will be giving away copies of the book Still, written by Sweet Pea Project founder Stephanie Paige Cole, on Sunday May 6th in honor of International Bereaved Mothers Day.
International Bereaved Mothers Day was created in 2010 by Project Heal's Carly Marie Dudley and it is held on the first Sunday of May.
Carly explains: "This special day was created to honour and celebrate mothers who carry some if not all of their children in their hearts rather than their arms. In our modern day society, mothers who are grieving the death of their babies and children are usually forgotten. The traditional Mothers Day has proven to be an emotionally difficult day for so many mothers around the world."
To enter the drawing for a copy of Still, please email Stephanie@sweetpeaproject.org with the words "Still a Mother" in the subject line. Please include your name, your child's name/nickname and your address in the email. All entries must be received by May 5.  Winners will be notified on May 6.
I would also like to remind you that Mother's Day is your day, regardless of whether you carry your child in your arms or in your heart. You are still a mother. Please take a moment to read, or re-read for those of you who have been in our community awhile, this short piece from our blog about the true origins of this holiday and how it really was created with us broken hearted mamas in mind: http://sweetpeaproject.blogspot.com/2010/05/mothers-day-of-peace.html
To learn more about International Bereaved Mother's Day please visit the facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/International-Bereaved-Mothers-Day/205653979495449 and be sure to pick up a free flower photo while you are there to help spread the word and share the love.
I hope these days are gentle to you.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Sweet Fundraiser... CHOFFY!

click on the image to enlarge

Simone L. Lee, an independent Choffy distributor, has introduced a brand new and absolutely delicious fundraiser for Sweet Pea Project. Simone will be donating 100% of her profits to Sweet Pea Project during the month of May. And now Simone has graciously decided to begin the fundraiser a full two weeks early- all purchases made from now until May 31st will benefit Sweet Pea Project- so start shopping! And don't forget Mom... Choffy makes a fantastic Mother's Day present! 

Shop now at  www.drinkchoffy.com/deLEEcious. Learn more about Choffy (and discover great new recipes and tips) on Simone's facebook page: Choffy Is DeLEEcious.  Please feel free to spread the word by sharing our flier and linking to this post.  Thank you for your support!

And a special bonus: Free shipping on select products ordered during the month of April! Details at http://www.drinkchoffy.com/free-shipping-through-the-rest-of-april/

Sunday, April 1, 2012

2nd Annual Sweet Pea Sisters & Brothers Picnic Presented by Beittel-Becker Pediatrics

You are invited to the 2nd Annual Sweet Pea Sisters & Brothers Picnic Presented by Beittel-Becker Pediatrics, Sweet Pea Project's community event for children who have lost a brother or sister during pregnancy or infancy. The death of a baby can be very difficult on a child. They witness their parents wrestling with overwhelming grief, and struggle with their own feelings of sadness and confusion. These children 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.

Parents are invited to bring their surviving and subsequent children to Lititz Springs Park in Lititz, PA on Saturday, June 30th from 4pm-7pm to play, eat, and enjoy each other's company. The highlight for this year's picnic will surely be the concert by the award-winning, childrens' favorite: Steven Courtney & the Suitcase Musicians! Just like last year, there will be tons of awesome prizes, bubble and parachute playtime with Gymboree of Lancaster and a craft table where kids can express themselves through art, make beaded necklaces with their sibling's name, and plant flowers.  Doug Hilton Photography will be capturing candid shots throughout the event and Krisha Martzall Photography will be shooting free family portraits in the park. This year's picnic will also include a bounce house from 3 Monkeys Inflatables, live animal demonstrations by Bob the Critter Guy, Kids Yoga with Michelle Newman, balloon animals from Tony the Balunguy, and much more. Bring your favorite picnic blanket or plop down at a picnic table to enjoy a delicious picnic dinner, courtesy of Freeze & Frizz, SEI's Catering and Grand Central Bagel. Be sure to save room for dessert! Couture Cupcakes will once again be providing cupcakes, and there will be plenty of cookies and cake, too!

This event (and all of the food and entertainment) is entirely free, but registration is required. Please reserve your family's spot at www.sweetpeaproject.org/picnic/registration no later than May 25. And don't forget to order your Sweet Pea Picnic T-shirts!

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.

For more information about the picnic (and to view a video from last year's event) please visit www.sweetpeaproject.org/picnic. Please contact Beth@sweetpeaproject.org with any questions. Thank you and we hope to see you in June!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Happy Birthday, Dakota Jones

Thirteen years ago, on March 11, a beautiful little boy was born. He did not cry. He did not wiggle in his mama's arms. He did not breathe. But still, he changed the world.
That little boy lit a spark inside of his mother during the nine months he spent nestled inside of her, and that spark was not extinguished when he died. That spark grew into a full fledged fire of motherly love and devotion and creativity and life and beauty and sadness and empathy and generosity and strength and light.
Kara has done so much since Dakota's death and birth (in that terrible, twisted order) and has been an inspiration to so many. Her artwork, poetry, books and workshops are such gifts to our community.  She is the one who enlightened me to the true origins of Mother's Day and her idea of using art to "look askew and try to get a handle on our experience when looking straight on is too much" really hits home for me.  Her book of poetry, Flash of Life, is one of the books that I have returned to time and time again in the five years since my Madeline's death and it was an incredible honor for me when Kara agreed to write the foreword for my own book.  Though I hate the sadness we have in common and I wish we had met under different circumstances, I am so grateful to know her, and to know Kota through her.
If you haven't had a chance to check out all the amazing things Kara LC Jones and her husband, Hawk Jones, have created as they continue to parent Dakota, please take a few minutes to check out some of their work at www.motherhenna.com.
And happy thirteenth birthday, Kota.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Please take a moment to read the message below from Dr. Joanne Cacciatore, and visit her blog.  This is an important read on a topic that will inevitably touch every single one of us. As always, Dr Joanne Cacciatore articulates it perfectly. "We can never derive what we need during suffering from a pill or a bottle. What we desperately need in our world is a willing witness to our suffering, someone who will join us with full presence and mindfulness."

"A dangerous change for future bereaved parents is impending. The DSM V has proposed a reduction to two weeks following any death (there is no exclusion for child death) before grief can be classified as depression. Please read this important blog and call to action and please read this blog and then SHARE far and wide to your networks: http://drjoanne.blogspot.com/2012/03/relativity-applies-to-physics-not.html~Joanne Cacciatore

The pressure from her blog is resulting in some public attention, helping to bring the cause of bereaved parents into public purview, and helping our voices to be heard.  Please read her blog post and spread the word.  Thank you.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Ladies Day Out

On Sunday April 15th, JCAL Academy will host a Ladies Day Out event to benefit Sweet Pea Project.  The event will be held from 2-4pm at Lancaster Jewish Community Center, located at 2120 Oregon Pike.  Enjoy delicious food catered by Food for Thought Catering, neck massages by Lancaster Chiropractic &a Massage Therapy, tons of incredible vendors (listed on flier below), giveaways and so much more! 
Email  Nicole at Nicole@sweetpeaproject.org ASAP to register for this free event.
Click on the flier to enlarge.
Please feel free to copy & share.
The black & white version below is provided 
for those who wish to print and share.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Artwork & candles fom five.

Earlier this month my art exhibit, five, opened at Mulberry Art Studios.  Sweet Pea Project hosted a community reception and it all unfolded perfectly... the artwork, the writings, the gently played guitar, the poetry reading, the community expressions wall, the glow of over 200 candles, each one bearing the name of a deeply loved child... it all came together to create something beautiful and honest and important and powerful and sacred. 

Experience a bit of it for yourself by taking a few minutes to view this video, featuring artwork and candles from the exhibit, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfK3u5C1egY

Krista Darrah of Loving Memories Photography (http://www.lovingmemoriespa.com/) captured many beautiful images that afternoon, and she has generously donated them all to us.  If you had a candle lit for your child, please feel free to visit the Lit With Love album at www.sweetpeaproject.shutterfly.com  and download the image of your candle.

I hope today is a gentle one for you.

Stephanie Cole

Thursday, January 5, 2012


On January 5th, Madeline's 5th birthday, I was interviewed about my art exhibit, five., for Channel 11's 10:00 News. I have included a link to that piece, along with two links for newspaper articles, to the bottom of this post in case you are interested in checking them out.
If you are in the area, I would love for you to join us at Mulberry Art Studios from 1pm until 4pm on Sunday, January 15th for the community reception for five.The gallery will be filled with beautiful art and writings, candle light and the music of a gently played guitar. A poetry reading will begin at 2pm and will feature pieces by Laura Seftel, Amy McCarter, Christopher Kulfan, Ralyssa Ensinger, Stephanie Paige Cole, Angie Yingst and Catherine A.G. Bayly.
The Community Expressions Wall, which features small glimpses into the depths of love and grief in the hearts of individuals who have experienced the death of a child, will be displayed in the Loft. 3x5 cards will be provided if you would like to add a piece of your own heart to our wall. 
More information can be found at www.sweetpeaproject.org/five.
Thank you for your support and I hope to see you on the 15th!

Stephanie Paige Cole
Founder/ Board President
Sweet Pea ProjectPO Box 10351
Lancaster, PA 17605


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