Sixteen years ago, the multidisciplinary Mary Horrigan Connors Center for Women and Newborns Bereavement Committee began hosting a small remembrance service in Carrie Hall to help families coping with the loss of a baby. Since then, the service has grown tremendously, with many families returning year after year to remember their babies and support each other.
“Grief does not end,” said Elisa Abdulhayoglu, MD, MS, FAAP, of the Department of Pediatric Newborn Medicine and a member of the Bereavement Committee. “It changes form over time. Families that have recently lost a baby and families that lost a baby years prior meet each other, and many times, this helps in the grieving process.”
This year’s service, held on Oct. 27 in Cabot Atrium, brought together more than 100 family members, some of whom experienced this tender loss as recently as September and others whose loss occurred over a decade ago.
“Families welcomed the opportunity to honor their baby and spend the day reflecting and remembering their child with others who understand their pain,” said Leslie Morette, BSN, RN, nurse-in-charge for the Center for Labor and Birth. “The friendships and relationships among these families have grown over time.”
The ceremony included reflections, poetry, music and an opportunity for families to write their babies’ names on paper stars and place them on a board depicting the night sky.
Families also took time to write words of love they can share with others in memory books and on stones that are kept in the hospital chapel, said Mikhala Heil, MDiv, of Spiritual Care Services, who serves as chaplain resident for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
“New bonds were made and old bonds were renewed,” Heil said. “Beautiful poems and words were shared, and, most importantly, these babies’ lives were honored and remembered by this community.”