The holidays are traditionally seen as a special time of togetherness, family and cheer many look forward to all year. But Anne Pazier of Santa Barbara was having a hard time finding anything to feel joyful for as she approached the holiday season in 2008. That September, she had tragically given birth to her stillborn baby girl, Brooke.
“It was devastating,” recalled Anne, who at the time was already mother to her then 4-year-old son, Aiden. With the holidays on the way, Anne said she often kept quiet about her loss, as she felt guilty for talking about it and potentially depressing someone during the holidays.
When a friend suggested that she look into Hospice of Santa Barbara’s services, Anne’s first thought was that the local nonprofit was only for people who were in the process of death, but Anne and her husband, Todd, were soon signed up for a group workshop with other couples who had experienced similar losses.
While it wasn’t a “club” she would have wanted to be a part of, Anne soon found how helpful it was to speak with others who had gone through similar situations.
Anne was also surprised by how open her husband was during these group meetings, and that was where she really discovered what he was going through. She also took comfort in attending Hospice of Santa Barbara’s annual Light Up a Life memorial tree lighting, as it was another safe place to cry, be angry and even celebrate the holidays.
Hospice of Santa Barbara was also able to assist her with counseling and other soothing therapies, all free of charge.
Anne was scared when she later became pregnant with her daughter Cadence, who is now 5, but with the help and counseling from Hospice of Santa Barbara, she said the fear didn’t paralyze her. Anne has even healed to the point that she is able to make Brooke a part of their “holiday story” in a positive way.
“I don’t know that I would be able to be the sort of mother that I am today to our daughter Cadence if I hadn’t had that opportunity to really heal,” said Anne, who sees Brooke as the family’s “Little Angel.”
Hospice of Santa Barbara volunteers its free professional counseling and care management services to those who are experiencing the impact of a life-threatening illness or grieving the death of a loved one.
Hospice of Santa Barbara is also present on six local high school campuses to work with children and teens who are grieving the loss of a loved one.
For more information about Hospice of Santa Barbara, including volunteer opportunities, call 805.563.8820 or visit www.hospiceofsantabarbara.org.
— Angel Pacheco is a publicist representing Hospice of Santa Barbara.