A message from Carol McMurrich, founder and facilitator of the Empty Arms Group:
In May of 2003, my first child, Charlotte Amelia, died in the early stages of labor from a compressed umbilical cord. In the months that followed, I could not conceive of a time in my life where I would not be literally crippled by grief. Adding to the shock and horror of Charlotte's death was the suffocating feeling that I would never be able to feel better again. The only thing that allowed me a slim ray of hope was a woman I was connected with in Georgia, whose own daughter had died five years earlier. I would talk to her on the phone and hear that while she still missed her daughter desperately, she had rebuilt her life. Knowing that this woman existed was the closest thing to hope I had. Knowing what an impact this connection had on me, as I then moved through my grief journey I have felt compelled to reach out to others along the way.
I started Empty Arms in May of 2007. After losing Charlotte, I mourned the lack of bereavement resources in my own community, and also wanted to be an active participant in helping to improve the care given to babylost patients at my own hospital. Thus, the Empty Arms Group was born, with the help and cooperation of many others at Cooley Dickinson Hospital. In the years that have followed, Empty Arms has sought to create a variety of meetings and resources to be able to offer bereaved families the type of support that works best for them at the time that they need it the most. In the spring of 2011, with the blessing of CDH, we established ourselves as a separate non-profit. Our programs at Cooley remain the same, but we are now able to branch out more completely to other area hospitals to touch as many lives as we can.
I received peer counselor training through Share, Inc., a national organization supporting families through pregnancy and infant loss, and group facilitator training through Mother Woman. Empty Arms is affiliated with Share and continues to receive support, resources, and guidance from them.
The Empty Arms Group is our main bereavement support group. The Subsequent Choices Meeting is for those looking to take the next steps in building their families during a difficult time. We also offer a Miscarriage Support Group for those who wish to focus their conversation with others who have had losses in the first half of pregnancy. Finally we have a Parenting after Loss group for those who are struggling to balance their grief with parenting living children. Empty Arms also offers special events, a memorial walk, caregiver trainings, written support materials, and peer counseling in loss situations.
If you have experienced a loss and would like more information about groups and resources, or if you simply need to reach out for support, please contact me at 413-529-1610 or firstname.lastname@example.org.