A Carle Foundation Hospital program on Tuesday, Oct. 15, will honor the memory of babies who passed away.
The Shining Light Memorial for Pregnancy and Infant Loss will begin at 7 p.m. at the hospital. Made possible by the Carle Center for Philanthropy, the program will last approximately one hour and feature music, a candlelighting ceremony, prayer, refreshments and an opportunity for attendees to make or renew acquaintances.
Anyone who has experienced a miscarriage, stillbirth or death of a baby up to 12 months of age is welcome to participate.
“This will be our sixth one and I’m noticing people who come back every year,” said Linda Ellison, Carle’s perinatal bereavement coordinator. “Some people do build friendships during this time with people who have experienced something similar, and that’s part of the purpose of the program, to surround people with other people who are suffering in a similar way. Whether they spend time talking with anyone or not, they have the awareness that there is someone there who knows what it is that you’re struggling with.
“Especially with miscarriage, a lot of people suffer in silence. Miscarriage tends to be one of those things that tends to be forgotten quickly by people around you. It doesn’t get the same measure of sympathy. This is one of the reasons why I think this is important. This gives people a memorial ceremony they can attend and claim as their own.”
No registration is required. Each child to be remembered will have a candle with his or her name; you can reach Ellison at (217) 326-3196 to make arrangements or visit with her at Carle before the ceremony begins to have a child’s name on a candle. (More information is available here.)
Ellison emphasized that there is no limit on how far back a loss occurred to be eligible to participate in the program.
“One of the things I’m aware of, because of my study in perinatal grief, is there are many, many, many families out there who suffered a loss 30, 40 or 50 years ago,” she said. “At that time the practice was very much to sweep it under the rug, to push it aside. Mothers didn’t get to go to funerals, that type of thing. It was kept very hush-hush. And that stays with a family for their whole lives. So I really want to stress that it doesn’t matter if it was 50 years ago or it was yesterday. There is a place for you.”
Ellison also recommended a radio documentary produced by the Canadian Broadcasting Company about a cemetery in Vancouver, B.C., that honors the memories of thousands of infants that died at or just after birth. You can read more about the cemetery and listen to the documentary here.