A Beautiful Way to Remember

I attended the Infant Memorial Mass earlier this month on Oct.15th, Infant Loss Awareness Day at Gardens of Gethsemani.  It was one of the most touching services I have been to and we are honoured that Archbishop J. Michael Miller took time to be with us again this year.  His homily was heartfelt and compassionate.

Afterwards, over steaming cups of hot chocolate, the Archbishop greeted bereaved families and asked us the names of our beloved babies as he looked at the candles we wrote on that lit up the steps of the altar during the Mass.

Over the years, I’ve learned that there will be many who are uncomfortable hearing about infant loss.  When I feel people turn away, act like they didn’t hear me, or quickly change the subject, I remind myself that there was a time – not so long ago – when I felt the same way.  It was before I had children of my own and I hadn’t experienced what it was like to be a bereaved mom.

In this article, Ask me his name:  a mother’s request, Winetta Nguyen writes “There is so much love in our hearts when we get to say his name out loud.  I know many people are uncomfortable with asking us about our son because they are afraid that it will resurface the pain and loss that we’ve experienced. The truth is, the pain and loss is always there. We can’t be reminded of something that is on our minds and hearts to begin with.”

I’m extremely grateful that we had this opportunity to remember our children at the Mass; to be surrounded by love and prayers within a supportive, faith-filled community.  Over the years, I’ve reassure bereaved families that it’s ok to remember and to grieve; it’s ok to share our stories and to be able to laugh again; to honour the dreams we hold in our hearts, the joys of our pregnancy, the pain of death and the hope of eternity.

You never really know, by sharing the story of your little one, who might be touched or inspired to do the same.  It may be your neighbour, a high school friend, the person standing beside you in a movie theatre – or perhaps, someone who might live thousands of miles away like this mother in Hawaii!

Happy Feast of All Saints!  If you would like the names of your infants or children to be remembered, I’m happy to place them on the altar at Gardens of Gethsemani in the chapel.  Simply send me the name/s of your beautiful child/ren and a team of Elizabeth Ministers and other bereaved families will keep your family in prayer.

Volunteer Photographers – NILMDTS

So many times I have heard families say that they wish they had learned about the option of having photographs of their babies before it was too late to do so.  Here is a news story that features Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep (NILMDTS) and the wonderful work that volunteer photographers do to keep important memories alive.

If you hear of a family who has lost or will likely lose their infant, please consider letting them know about this volunteer organization.  Many blessings to the photographers who offer their heart and soul to serving our community with their empathy and expertise.

Kindness for Keaton

Today is Kindness Project Day.  It is wonderful thing to do an act of kindness in memory of loved ones.  I can imagine how proud our little ones are to have us express our love to them in this way.  Kind acts are not limited to a specific date of course.  Join other bereaved families around the world and honour your loved one any time you feel moved to do so.

Here are some ideas:

* Purchase someone’s coffee when you go through the drive-thu, it may inspire other customers to do the same

*Buy a package of diapers and give them to an organization that supports women who have unplanned pregnancies

* Add coins to someone’s expired parking meter

* Leave flowers at someone’s door who needs encouragement

Be creative!

For our random act of kindness, our family has decided to have extra MISS Foundation kindness cards “done in loving memory of our beautiful child _____ ” printed.  If you would like us to send you some, please email info(at)littlelightofheaven(dot)com.  Please note that a limited supply is available so contact us soon.

 

Infant Caskets…Made with Brotherly Love

A friend of mine, who lost her son a few years ago, posted information about a ministry called the Child Casket Fund.  Trappist Monks of New Melleray Abbey hand make wooden caskets as a corporal act of mercy and offer them as gifts to families who may not otherwise be able to afford one.

There are both infant and toddler caskets available as well as ones for children, youth and adults.  It makes me sad just thinking that small size caskets are even available, but as some of you are well aware, the little ones are needed too.

After the loss of a child, there are many logistical things to consider which seems very cruel and unfair to have to think about when you are grieving – especially if the death is sudden and unexpected.  Maybe knowing that your child’s final resting cradle has been embraced with a lot of love and surrounded by prayers, may offer a little bit of comfort in this time of intense suffering.

The monks also plant a tree seedling for each child and a Mass is celebrated in your little one’s name.  What a wonderful way to honour the life of a child gone-too-soon.

God bless,

Keaton’s Mama

 

Remembering Baby’s First Christmas in Heaven

I’ve met some new babylost moms this year and my thoughts are with them; I know this will be a tough holiday season.  I welcome you to join me in sending prayers to these bereaved families as this will be their 1st Christmas without their little ones. 

Here are some thoughts about what helped us as we celebrated our son’s first Christmas with Jesus.  It was written in December 2009. 

Merry Christmas, Baby!

Gardens of Gethsemani Cemetery at Christmas a place of prayer, comfort and Nativity Spirit too

(Original article published in The B.C. Catholic January 4, 2010)

            We were not quite sure how to celebrate Christmas this year, and to be honest, I didn’t even know if I had the heart to.  We still planned to attend Mass of course, and spend time with family, but other than putting out the Nativity scene and a stocking for our son, I did not want to decorate the house this year. 

            A few weeks ago, we drove up to this beautiful spot, and experienced first-hand the true spirit of Christmas.  It simply took my breath away.  “K-e-a-t-o-n,…..look!”  I whispered, and quickly scrambled out the car door.  My husband was only a few steps behind.  When we finally stood in the middle of it all, tears were streaming down my face.  We kept scanning the scenery around us in awe, and our hearts were filled with joy! 

            Upon first glance, this may look like a regular park or yard decorated for this cheerful Christmas season.  There are candy canes on the fence, bright big bows glinting in the trees, and red and white poinsettias lined up perfectly.  This is a photo of Gardens of Gethsemani cemetery, and more specifically, Rachel’s Garden where the infants and children are buried.  This is also where we laid our baby boy Keaton Dominic to rest in January.  Our son died at birth on Jan. 16th, 2009 and this year would have been baby’s first Christmas.

            At Keaton’s funeral, a woman whom I did not know approached me before Mass.  She had tears in her eyes and sadly said, “You don’t know me, but I am also a parishioner here at St. Nicholas.  I am so, so sorry for the loss of your baby boy…it has been awhile, but we also lost our son before he was born.”  She gave me a big tight hug, and in that instant, it felt as if I had found a long lost friend.  

            This mother later told me that every year for Advent, someone lovingly takes time to decorate the children’s area at Garden’s of Gethsemani.  For over 10 years, this person voluntarily trims the trees with wreaths and bows, and a generous bunch of poinsettias are carefully placed at each of the infant gravesites.  My husband and I want to thank this person for remembering our children at Christmas.  God bless you!  It is so nice to be able to openly celebrate our heavenly children, but more so this time of year.

            To those who are grieving the death of a baby or child:  I am sorry that your little one is not here with you.  Our little saints are very much alive in heaven, and waiting for us!  I find comfort, and peace knowing that God loves all of his children, but now know that Christmas time can be bittersweet.  No matter how long it has been since the death of our loved ones, we will still miss them during the celebration of Our Lord Jesus’ birth at Christmas. 

            Merry Christmas children, give Baby Jesus our love.  Please pray for us, and ask the Blessed Mother to hold and take care of you until we get there.  Love always, your faithful and loving parents.

 

Meet Me Near the “Baby Tree” – Oct.15th Infant Remembrance Service

October is Infant and Child Death Awareness Month.  The annual Infant Loss Remembering Service is scheduled to take place on Sat. Oct.15, 2011 at 1pm and is presented by the support group Mourning Mothers.

This Remembering Service will be held at the “Baby Tree” at Langley Lawn Cemetery, 4393 208 St. for parents and family members grieving the loss of an infant.  Mourning Mothers has also dedicated a plaque near this special tree in memory of babies who have died during pregnancy.

Last year was the first year I attended the event and it was a beautiful gathering.  We were invited to light candles and write the names of our children on wooden signs and place them on one of the branches of the Baby Tree.  Large and colourful butterflies complimented the fall leaves that also adorned the tree.  

 

Flower petals were given to each person to spread around the angel figurines near the plaque and families were welcome to say a prayer and share short speeches.  The ceremony concluded with the release of doves.  It was truly breathtaking to watch the white flock of birds gracefully circle above us before flying up towards heaven.      

For more info, call Susan at 604-575-031-three.  The service is non-denominational.

* Please visit the Little Light of Heaven Events page for other upcoming events and have a blessed Thanksgiving weekend.