Recently, our parish began a group as a ministry to parents who have lost children through miscarriage, stillbirth, or other tragedies such as SIDS. A couple of young mothers who had recently been through miscarriages prompted the formation of the group, and when we first met we had a woman who had lost a baby boy to SIDS, the mother of a stillborn boy and the grandmother of a stillborn boy, the two young mothers, as well as myself who had lost a baby early in pregnancy when I was forty-five. At our first gathering we shed a lot of tears as we shared our experiences, the belief that losing a baby to miscarriage somehow doesn't "count" in a society that allows unborn babies to be killed up to the moment of birth, and the loneliness of continuing to grieve our lost child or children when the rest of the world seems to expect us to move on quickly. People trying to be kind told us, "You can always have another one," as if they were toys that could just be duplicated, "there might have been something wrong with it," as if we would love our child less if there were, or even that he or she might have turned out to be a criminal. A bond was forged among us all by our shared sorrow and our determination to offer help to any other parents who needed our love and support.
Our new pastor has been amazing in helping us move the ministry forward. He told us we could have a place on the church property for a garden of remembrance, and while we originally thought we would have a spot in the area where the outdoor Stations of the Cross are, when we met next, our leader excitedly led us to an area right outside the front of the church, where there is a low wall, and told us that they were going to put in a Garden of the Angels, with two statues they had found in the church office building, some new plants, a bench, and little stones that people could have engraved with the names of the children who left us before we could get to know them. We had a dedication Mass, the garden was blessed, and we have over a hundred stones with the names of our babies.
We're preparing now for our next Mass, to be celebrated on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who is the patroness of the unborn, we have a notice in our weekly bulletin that we are here to love and support anyone who has experienced such a loss, and it is a way to harness our own sorrow in order to reach out with healing to others.