How Do I Invite Someone to Gathering Hope?

We’re often asked how to share Gathering Hope with someone else or invite them to our annual gathering. They know that their loved one could benefit from a place where they’d be supported, but might be intimidated about suggesting it. We asked the best resource we have...our moms. Whether you’ve experienced loss for yourself or not, you’ll find what you need below:

“I was invited a couple of times, but someone saying ‘Let’s go together, I want to remember your baby with you,’ cinched it for me. Grieving mommas need this kind of support and often don’t know where to find it or don’t know that it’s normal to need support. Reaching out can be scary but you’re throwing them a lifeline.”

...

“A friend connected me.

I think most people want to be invited even if they feel they aren’t ready to go to something. Being invited to something, even if we say no, is a bid for connection. I think some ways to invite in a careful way are..

‘I’d love to go with you to this if you want to.’

‘I’m a part of this group that I have really found healing. Would you like to join me?’ “

...

“I was invited by a friend who had not had a loss but heard about it at church and invited me to go. She invited and attended with me the first time. I am so thankful she did. It would have been difficult to go on my own the first time.”

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“I was invited by a friend who has never had a loss or gone to Gathering Hope. She heard about it from her midwife who had gone the year before. Here’s her text:

‘Hey! I am sharing this with you because you've been on my mind a lot recently. I hope I don't come across as insensitive in any way. One of our midwives recommended this event. She has been attending it for three years and spoke of the healing it brought her. I thought you may want the info.’ “

...

“I found it after my mom saw about the event on tv last year. I have invited a lot of people. I just say ‘Hey I found this amazing community of other loss moms. We hold each other up and support each other through this.’ “

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“My friend at Crossfit told me. She knew I had lost a baby but didn’t know my story. She just told me she had something to share with me and hoped she wasn’t overstepping any boundaries. She told me a bit about Gathering Hope, when it was, and I dug into it more on my own. I am forever grateful for her willingness to share!”

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“ [A friend] invited me after I had my first miscarriage. I was a little skeptical about it at first. It would be both our first time attending. I think her comforting approach and being open to talking about our babies made me consider going. Others around me didn’t understand and wanted me to get over it but she understood. So, I suggest you ask someone in a very comforting and loving way. Let them know it’s okay to talk about their loss and there are so many other women out their ready to hear your story and be there for you.”

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“Hearing you be so open, honest and raw about your son touched my heart so deeply. I just knew I needed to be apart of this. I've had three losses...I never really felt like it was okay to talk about my losses in such an open way until I saw you doing it. At a birthday party. In front of friends and strangers.”

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“I randomly saw Peyton sharing her story on the news leading up to the event last year. But if someone had said ‘Hey there is this event/group you should check out’, I don’t think I would have been offended. I was drowning in grief and had no support system and no experience so it would have been a welcome invitation...Ultimately all you can do is make the invitation and put the ball in their court. Let it be up to her to whether this is something she needs right now. Maybe just say, ‘Would you like to go with me to this event in October?’ “

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“I was invited by my friend whose daughter had a loss. She told me she heard about this ‘conference thing’ and thought of me because she knew I had lost babies too. What made me more comfortable was that she said ‘Would you like to COME WITH US?’ and that made me feel like I didn’t have to consider going alone. I still took a few weeks deciding if I wanted to go or not but I’m pretty sure I would not have gone had I not been asked to come along with someone else.”

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I heard about GH from [a friend]. She was the first person I had talked to that truly understood my grief and loss. She was so vulnerable and open in sharing her story with me that it truly is the reason why I am willing to be the same. I have had so many friends message me about their friend that lost a baby and if I would be willing to talk to them. It really is one of the biggest blessings out of all of this to meet a mom exactly where she met me... at the beginning of their grief when you can feel so alone and unsure if your feelings are valid or crazy. To be able to connect to moms that truly understand each other’s pain is so important. [She] told me about Gathering Hope right away and explained how it would be a good place to get involved and find support. Connecting with the community that GH provides, it was a natural ‘next step’ for me to attend the event.”

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“It was through Facebook posts from Peyton that I learned about the GH event in 2017; the year I had my miscarriage. Encouraging posts played a part in getting me to that event October ‘17. FB & IG posts will get seen and read and that might be what someone in need might need to see at that very moment. I’m praying God uses whatever means to reach mommas in need of Hope.”

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Here’s what stands out to us:

1. People. Being personally invited to go, and being willing to attend alongside a grieving mother is powerful. (As a gentle reminder, Gathering Hope attendance is for women only.)

2. Vulnerability. If you’ve experienced the loss of a baby, being open about it allows others to see that it’s ok to seek support.

3. Timing. It’s not too soon and it’s not too late to invite someone to come to Gathering Hope. We have moms who attend with fresh grief, alongside those who miss a baby that they lost years ago.

Pray for gentle boldness in sharing this community with a mom that you love. Call her. Text her. Invite her to lunch. Talk with her after a workout, after church or walking to the parking lot after work. The Lord will provide the words or simply choose something you’ve read here. For more information or to attend a gathering, head to our website, GatheringHope.net. You can do it! 💜

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Gathering Hope

In 2014, Peyton Lauderdale sat in Bible study only months after losing her infant son. For an instant, she had a picture in her mind of women sitting together in candlelight, worshiping God and coming together, united in their losses. She didn't think much of it at that moment, but as days turned to weeks, she couldn't get the thought out of her mind.  

Though no one wants to bury their child, there is a sense of closure one receives from the process. When a woman miscarries, she isn't given that same opportunity to say goodbye. Peyton felt called to help other women who had experienced miscarriage or infant loss to get that closure, even if it had been years since it had happened.  Through months of hard work, amazing volunteers and some extremely difficult days, Gathering Hope 2015 was born.  

On October 22, 2015, over 70 women came together despite torrential rains and an eventual power outage.  When candles had to be their only source of light, Peyton's tears fell like the rain outside the doors. That image, that glimpse of a picture she had seen in Bible study of women supporting each other in candlelight was here.  That moment had come to fruition.  

Many people asked Peyton after Gathering Hope 2015 if she was having another event the next year.  Over and over she put it away on a shelf in the back of her mind. She convinced herself that her job was done.  She had done what she was called to do, and she was now moving forward.  

That would not be the case.    

In January 2017, Carol Vantine had launched her blog, Matthew's Song, a website dedicated to helping women and families whose lives had been affected by pregnancy loss.  Carol had heard about Peyton and Gathering Hope from a mutual friend and she reached out to her. Peyton knew immediately that she was being prompted to bring back Gathering Hope, but she waited for confirmation.  

After Carol and Peyton met for coffee the first time, it was obvious that their paths were meant to cross.  Plans for Gathering Hope 2017 quickly began to fall into place and they couldn't be ignored.   Volunteers filled positions quickly and the surrounding communities showed an outpouring of generosity. On October 22, 2017, over 40 volunteers and nearly 100 women gathered at the Summit in Aledo, TX to celebrate and remember the lives of the babies they lost too soon. 

Miscarriage and infant loss affects 1 in 4 women.  If your family hasn't been directly touched by this devastation, you know someone who has. The third annual meeting of Gathering Hope will be October 14, 2018 from 4-7.  Doors open at 3:30 at the Summit. If you are the 1 in 4 and need to experience hope and comfort in your grief, we invite you to join us.  

The event will include live music, a phenomenal guest speaker, Sarah Philpott, author of Loved Baby, and some time to talk with other women who have walked the same path.  The evening is not a night to spend in sadness, but in drawing strength from other women and walking out the doors stronger because of the community that surrounds you.  It will be an evening of love and an evening of remembrance.  It will be an evening you won't want to miss. 

For more information, find them online at www.gatheringhope.net or follow them on Facebook.

That Side of Heaven

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Can you think back to those first moments…those moments when you heard the words that inform you that all the dreams you had for your child, for your life, your family...those words that you can’t even really wrap your mind around in the moment, but come back to you time and again. Maybe they aren’t words, but feelings…feelings that crush you, knock the wind out of you, or bring tears to your eyes each time you reflect back. Or was it a single moment in time when the trajectory of your life was forever changed whether it was in your home, a doctor’s office, at work, or in a hospital bed…that moment when you realized that the child you had grown to love was in the arms of God, or would soon be going to heaven.

Maybe that moment was just days or weeks ago. Yesterday? Years ago. Many years ago.

In those early days, weeks and months after losing my son, I had several sweet friends provide me with gifts. Necklaces with my son’s name, journals, letters, and my personal favorite, cards from my women’s Bible study group with prayers written out for me. I still treasure those to this day. I also received numerous books about infant loss and miscarriage, but I had no capacity to read anything but my Facebook feed (and we all know how hard that can be for to a grieving mom, too!). I had no attention span and reading books about my experience made me feel things that I wanted to avoid. It was hard enough just living day to day without reflecting on my experience; I didn’t want to read about it too. Within a few months I began seeing a good counselor, which required me to work through my loss, feel my feelings and talk about the trauma I’d experienced. The books, however, continued to sit on my nightstand where they represented a tender gift from thoughtful friends, but still I couldn’t manage to read them.

Fast forward almost four years, and a friend connected me to author Heather Butler. I was not only a little star-struck to be messaging with someone who had published a book, but I was also grateful for her vulnerability to share her story with me. There’s always a thread that connects parents who have lost babies, despite the different circumstances surrounding the loss and I felt safe sharing my story with her, too. She sent me a copy of her book, That Side of Heaven, and while I was thrilled to receive it, I was hesitant to open the cover. It too, sat on my nightstand, but this time it didn’t stay there for years. Within a few pages I was able to take in the transparent, truthful, raw, and engaging stories of Heather and five other moms included in this book.

Right away I was both thankful for this book, yet regretful that I hadn’t read something like this earlier in my journey. On a practical note, this book is a manageable length; each chapter is brief but rich with relatable experiences and wisdom. It created space for me to reflect, but not resulting a debilitating tailspin of grief, like I imagined it would be. At the end of each chapter, Heather provides a section on God’s promises, a prayer, and then a prompt to journal. Mama, I encourage you, even if it seems daunting, spend time here. Spend time putting words to your feelings, fears, anxieties, plans for healthy boundaries, and yes, how you can celebrate your child and your motherhood.

What I loved most was Heather’s dedication to Scripture. I was baffled to see so many of the same verses that the Holy Spirit sewed into my soul as I grieved the loss of my son…again that same thread, but this time in a holy way. She also shared story after story about how both talking and listening are healing for those who have survived what she calls the, “desolate land of baby loss.”

“The more we shared our story, the more it was affirmed over and over. Stories of losses that were tucked away deep inside of the women and men I talked to were brought to the surface…and the healing power of camaraderie gained more ground inside of us. Loss bound us, empathy bonded us, and our unspoken sisterhood united us.”
— Heather Butler

All of us want our babies to matter and to share them with the world, especially with those who can really understand the path we’re walking. We need each other--we need community and safe places to share our babies, our grief, our hopes, our longings, our tears, and our joys.

Thank you, Heather, for capturing the many sides of miscarriage and infant loss. Your willingness to usher other moms into healing and hope shines through every word! If you would like to purchase your own copy or to send one as a gift, find out more about Heather or connect with her on social media, head over to www.thatsideofheaven.com .