For some, Christmas is about the joy of having family and little ones around and for this reason, the holiday season can be difficult for those whose infants have died. Last evening, grieving parents, grandparents, siblings, and friends braved the cold, rainy weather and gathered in the warm atmosphere at St. Ann’s Parish for their 2nd annual Infant Remembrance Mass in Abbotsford.
This candlelight service was offered just a few days after Christmas on Dec.28th for the celebration of the Feast of the Holy Innocents and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Pastor James Hughes noted that it was not by mistake that this date was chosen for this special Mass.
During the service, families were invited to honour their infants by lighting a candle and placing the votives on a table in front of the altar. As more and more candles were set beside one another, the lights emitted a peaceful glow and dancing shadows were seen on the white table cloth during the Mass. Close by, the Infant Jesus was displayed in a manger with His arms stretched out to welcome us.
Well over 100 people attended this solemn event traveling from as far away as Washington State, the Sunshine Coast as well as parts of the Greater Vancouver area. Many people of various ages, backgrounds and faiths attended. “I wish we had a service like this in my community” a grieving mother said to me. ”It is nice for our children to meet others who understand what it is like to lose a sibling,” another mom and dad shared.
In his homily, Father openly shared that he has grown to appreciate the need to reach out to families suffering from infant loss due to ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, fatal diagnosis, pregnancy complications, stillbirth, illness and sudden infant death. “These children are also considered ‘Holy Innocents’ and have the important role of praying for us” he explained. Father James went on to say that the pain of couples struggling with infertility also needs to be recognized. He also praised and prayed for bereavement support workers and professionals dedicated to assisting these families.
At the reception, families were invited to sign a Book of Life and choose a hand-decorated pot of forget-me-not flowers. It is important to note that when Devan Greenhouses heard what the plants were for, they insisted that the pots were to be donated as a gift from the nursery to bereaved families. The evening was kindly coordinated by Fr. James and a number of families at the Parish. We are thankful for so many blessings!
It was comforting to meet other bereaved parents and families at this event. I was happy to greet familiar faces and meet some new friends too. Thank you to the team of ladies led by Jody at St. Ann’s for organizing such a wonderful remembrance service for our children. Special thanks to Father Hughes for your amazing support.
Click here for a description of the 2010 Service.
Please see events page for future Infant Loss Services and other related events.