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)

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