HAND provides unconditional support for grieving parents and those who are pregnant again after a loss. They offer phone support, grief meetings, subsequent pregnancy groups, and an extensive lending library. They also provide training for medical staff, childbirth educators and others in the community on how to help families experiencing a loss. They even have a funeral/burial fund to assist families who cannot afford to bury their babies. It is a safe place to share all the overwhelming emotions that come with a loss of this nature. HAND volunteers help you to move forward even when you think it impossible to do so.
HAND of the Peninsula in California is a wonderful and much needed organization. It helped me and my husband cope after losing precious twin babies who were born premature. We were able to share our story, our grief, our feelings with other parents who had been through (or who were going through) this same tragedy. I don't know what I would have done without the help and support of this group. The volunteers were outstanding.
I came to HAND in 1995, after my first child was stillborn due to an umbilical cord accident. The loss was totally devastating, and at times, I didn't think I could possibly recover. HAND was there for me through many months of grieving, as well as four subsequent pregnancies, two of which ended in miscarriage. The peer support I received through HAND was so helpful to me, I wanted to help others in the same way. I have been volunteering as a meeting facilitator and Board member for the past 11 years. I am honored to be involved with this wonderful organization, which is run entirely by volunteers, funded entirely by donations, and provides ALL of its services free of charge.
HAND of the Peninsula helped me tremendously after the death of my infant son who was born prematurely. The bi-weekly peer support group sessions helped me process my grief and move forward in my life. The other parents who had been through a similar loss became a great source for emotional support. HAND's lending library had many helpful books on the subject of infant loss. HAND also helped me deal with the emotional rollercoaster during my subsequent pregnancies. HAND is a terrific organization of parents helping parents.
I had a miscarriage in 1997. I was devastated. I learned of this group and attended support meetings, received literature began to feel that I would be normal again. Everyone I interacted with was caring, supportive, nuturing and helpful. All volunteers. Wonderful.
I began attending HAND meetings after my son died at one week old. I felt like there couldn't possibly be anyone who knew the kind of pain I was experiencing. My first meeting was scary but it opened my eyes to other people who could relate to my pain. It provided us with people who were in the same place that we were and with whom we continue to be friends with 5 years later. The facilitators were parents like me who had come through the pain I was in at the time. They are not professional therapists but they provide a safe place and can speak from experience, which you would rarely find in therapy.
I lost my first and second babies to early miscarriage. I found HAND just in time, right after my second loss. I had no idea how I was going to make it through this traumatic event for the second time, but HAND offered me a loving environment filled with people who had similar experiences, who knew the pain, the emotions, the thought processes. The volunteer leaders and other attendees offered me support and gave me a chance to let out my feelings and emotions. I do not know how I would have been able to integrate myself back in to real life without HAND.
What gives HOP credibility making it a place of hope is that it is run and supported financially exclusively by parents who have lost a baby. Newcomers see other grieving parents, like myself, not only coping with life after loss, trusting the universe and having a subsequent baby, but also offering support and reassurance. I learned my feelings were real, normal and changed with time. Somehow the hurt became tolerable, was woven into the background of my life and joy was possible again. I've served in every capacity as, sadly, our services are still much in demand. Because we are parent-run, it is difficult to expand services beyond the core group of volunteers. Many are young families and do not have the energy or time to volunteer although many come back when their children have grown.
I was a parent that lost my first born son in a full term delivery accident 21 years ago. I was brought to HAND of the Peninsula by a friend. I participated as a grieving parent for 12 years. I would get calls to meet families in the hospital, funeral homes that had lost a child. I participated on the Board and participated in 1989 in going to Washington DC looking for Federal aid in support for Grieving Families. The work that I participated in helped me feel that the support I gave would be helpful to families that needed someone to watch over them. In great despair and grief someone not emotional attached but there to protect and aid the families in the most difficult time in their lives. The loss of a child is life long. Subsequent Children do not replace the child lost. Women grieve for their entire lives, but they do survive and move on and with help and different suggestions on how to cope and grieve and acknowledge the loss helps us live and find happiness again. We do find happiness again.
When I lost my first pregnancy after years of trying to conceive, I was distraught. I found the much needed support I was seeking at the HAND of the Peninsula meetings. If I had not received the support from the other HAND parents I don't believe I would have gotten through the most difficult parts of grieving as well as I did. I was so appreciative of the support I received that I have done an "inservice" where I spoke with crisis hotline volunteers to better help them serve callers going through something similar and I am now a facilitator for the support meetings. HAND is a lifeline for sure.