Helping families honour and remember the loss of a baby is the goal of an upcoming event.
The second annual Our Hearts Remember walk is set to take place in Red Deer next month. The event will be held on Sept. 21st at the Kiwanis Picnic Shelter near Bower Ponds.
The walk will see families come together who have lost a baby. The event will help honour and remember them.
Our Hearts Remember is hosted by the Perinatal Bereavement Program at the Red Deer Regional Hospital.
The program first began in 1992. It is a program for inpatients throughout the Central Zone. The program started to help address the emotional and practical needs of parents who are bereaved after a perinatal death.
A perinatal death is a death of an infant before or during delivery. It includes miscarriages and still born babies. Under the program, early neonatal death is included as well which is any baby born alive but who dies shortly after birth (one to seven days old). Late neonatal death is also included in the program and is when a baby dies between eight and 28 days of life.
The program includes social workers, pastoral care and nursing staff.
“The program was formed because there was staff that wanted to come together and address the needs of bereaved families and make sure that they not only get the obstetrical care, but also the emotional support so they know they can start their grieving in a very safe environment – that we listen to their story and we do not isolate them,” said Heather Moon, maternal child social worker at the Red Deer Regional Hospital and the chair of the Perinatal Bereavement Program.
“This is not in a family’s plan and many don’t have reference with death because they are young and in the childbearing years. Sometimes this is their first experience with death, which is very traumatic because it’s their own child. The general public doesn’t have an understanding of how significant this loss is to parents.”
The program also provides practical support to families. “This includes explaining options to the family in terms of burial or cremation.”
Our Hearts Remember is a walk that will be held in memory of babies who have been lost. The walk, which is less than 1km, will take place Sept. 21st.
Pre-registration via the event’s facebook page or through the Red Deer Regional Health Foundation, is encouraged as the name of each baby is written along the path that the walk takes place.
On the day of the walk, registration is at 12:30 p.m. Participants will then have time to partake in a number of activities before the actual walk at 2:30 p.m.
“We will have a memory making table where the families can do a story line, a leaf ritual where they can write their baby’s name on a leaf and let it go in the river. We are also going to do a garland of remembrance where we will have baby’s names all hooked together to make a garland. It’s all very symbolic and very meaningful,” said Moon. “There will also be some mementos and keepsakes for sale and that is where we will raise a little bit of funds for the program.”
There will also be pinwheels for families to take home as well. “Last year we got a lot of feedback on the pinwheels. We had pinwheels that were colourful and bright and that were blowing in the breeze and uplifting. We will have pinwheels on all of the tables that we use and we hand them out at the end.”
Karie Stiles is part of the committee for the event. She also had two miscarriages in 2004 and was part of the Perinatal Bereavement Program at that time.
“It really meant the world (to be part of the program),” she said. “It was so wonderful to be able to talk to someone who understood. It helped me realize that everything I was feeling was normal.”
Stiles added it is important for her to be involved in the walk.
“It is a way for me to remember my babies but it is also something that is meaningful to other parents who are experiencing this kind of loss. It’s a place you can go and feel safe and know that everyone there knows how you are feeling,” she said. “It’s a day that is meant for family. It’s a sad day, but it’s also meant to be a happy day too. It means so much to be around people that have been in your shoes.”
This is the second year for the Our Hearts Remember Walk. In the past, the committee held a non-denominational service for those who have lost a baby, but last year they decided to do something different and hosted the walk. Last year, 150 people took part in the walk.
The walk is open to anyone in the community who has lost a baby at anytime.
Donations for the Perinatal Bereavement Program are accepted through the Red Deer Regional Health Foundation.
For more information regarding the walk, visit www.facebook.com/OurHeartsRememberRedDeer or email email@example.com.