Empty Arms Bereavement

Community Spotlight Series: Charlotte Capogna-Amias

Could you share your connection to Empty Arms and how you first discovered this organization?

I first connected with Empty Arms in 2015 after I had my first pregnancy loss. The midwifery practice I was working with told me about Empty Arms after I found out at 11.5 weeks that my pregnancy had ended. I had never attended a support group before, but I was deeply needing support from people who “got” what the experience was like, firsthand. I will never forgot that first Miscarriage Support Group that I attended with Lexi Walters Wright as the facilitator. She was so kind, thoughtful, and sensitive to the needs of the group. I truly felt held, understood, and validated in my experience. It was deeply healing. I attended that group again over time and also the Subsequent Choices Support Group when I was pregnant with my son.

As time went on, I knew I wanted to give back to the organization. I contacted Lexi when a call went out that they were looking for new board members to ask her more about her experience and she gently nudged me in the direction of becoming one of the support group facilitators. I have been co-facilitating the Miscarriage/Early Pregnancy Loss Support Group for a couple of years now and have also co-facilitated the Subsequent Choices Support Group. In the coming months, I’ll be co-facilitating a new group for people who have experienced loss and infertility. This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart and I feel so honored to do this work.

What motivates you to stay involved?

As we often say at Empty Arms, “We wish you didn’t need us, but we’re so glad you found us…” I wish no one needed this organization, because I wish no one had to go through the devastation of losing a child and/or pregnancy. Still, I am so grateful to be affiliated with such a phenomenal organization with such caring and committed staff, volunteers, and interns. I can say with all honesty that my work with Empty Arms energizes me. I realize that might sound strange when our work centers around an experience that is often associated with deep sadness and grief, but it feels so meaningful to be able to offer myself and my skills as a facilitator and empath. Giving back in this way fuels me and I feel incredibly honored to be trusted to hold peoples’ stories and experiences in the vessel of our support groups.

What do you do for a living?

I’m the assistant director of the TRIO Student Support Services Program at Westfield State University. The TRIO Program is a comprehensive academic, career, graduate school, financial and personal support program for students who are low-income, first-generation college, or students with documented disabilities. I love my job! I work with incredible colleagues and students. Plus, we work with students until they graduate so I get to form really meaningful mentoring relationships with them. I’m also a mum to my two wonderful living children: my ten-year-old, Adelaide, and my almost-four-year-old, Linden.

How do you spend your personal time and what do you like to do for fun?

I spend my personal time hanging out with my sweet family, which includes the aforementioned kids, my wife, our cat, and our five chickens. What do I do for fun? So many things! I love to read (especially historical fiction, memoirs, or books with a spiritual or social justice bent), listen to podcasts (I consume them like they are my J-O-B), watch films and shows, create art and decorate, and spend time in nature. I can often be found outside gardening, going for long walks and hikes, canoeing, and swimming. I love traveling (oh how I miss it!) and going on adventures to places I have never been before such as museums, restaurants, cities, and beautiful spots in nature. I also love to dance and sing (though I’m not necessarily good at dancing and I’m shy about singing by myself… working on caring less about both)! I also meditate, run most mornings, and do yoga… I will admit that I don’t necessarily find those practices “fun,” but gosh, they do make me feel good. Hanging out with my closest friends also brings me so much joy. I don’t know where I would be without them.

It’s odd to some that we share tears and laughter in this line of work! Any funny stories or anecdotes you’re willing to share?

It is probably surprising that we DO sometimes laugh in our support groups! It just goes to show the complexity of being a human and how the experience of loss can often make us “feel all the feels.” I remember sharing in one Subsequent Choices Group some of the (rather superstitious) things I did when I was pregnant with my son in an attempt to put out to the universe that I really wanted to keep my son. One example I shared was that I slept snuggling this hard, wooden fertility doll I had gotten on a trip abroad, literally every night, while I was trying to conceive and was pregnant with him. Many people nodded and then we took turns sharing all the things others had done with a similar “plea” in mind. We were laughing about our efforts and it felt so validating! I wasn’t actually all that crazy for spooning a fertility doll every night (though maybe I had taken the original intent of the fertility doll a bit to the extreme)!

What are YOUR HOPES for this year?

Good question! I find I don’t often stop and reflect on my hopes and goals, so it’s always good to take a moment to do that. I think my biggest hope for this year is that our country will shift to a better place with the COVID-19 pandemic and that most people will be able to be vaccinated so that we can eventually be able to do all the things we miss from life pre-pandemic (and of course, so that fewer people get sick). At the same time, I want to plant a hope that some of the surprising silver linings from the pandemic stay with us beyond this time. For me, those silver linings include the ease that working from home offers, slowing down, driving less, and being grateful for what I have, and expressing my gratitude freely.


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