By Marcy SanchezSeptember 26, 2019
LANDSTUHL, Germany -- Landstuhl Regional Medical Center's Mother Baby Unit will host a remembrance ceremony for International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day on Oct. 15, at 6:45 p.m.
The ceremony is slated to take place at LRMC's Infant Memorial Prayer Garden, located between buildings 3762 and 3763, and is intended to offer families with a pregnancy or infant loss an opportunity to heal and share experiences.
"There are a lot of people in our community in Germany that have experienced loss of this kind," said Holly Bryant, a registered nurse and coordinator of this year's remembrance. "This ceremony isn't just for people who have had a loss here, it's for anybody that has ever experienced a loss in their lives and they want to honor that memory."
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day focuses on the celebration of life for those who have lost an infant or suffered a miscarriage, stillbirth, or any newborn death. Candle-light vigils around the world signify a wave of light and commemorate each loss.
"A lot of times you (move) over here and you may not have any support, nobody to talk to about that grief," said Bryant. "I hope the ceremony helps get the word out that there are people with similar losses whether it's a very early trimester loss or infant loss."
Although LRMC keeps a record of pregnancy and fetal demise, Bryant states it doesn't account for all losses within the Kaiserslautern Military Community as some individuals experience loss in environments other than medical facilities.
"We don't see everybody, but that doesn't make their loss any less significant," said Bryant.
This year's remembrance welcomes U.S. Air Force Maj. Lisa Gonzales, a certified nurse midwife at LRMC, who has experienced loss herself and found healing through past remembrance ceremonies.
"I've personally had a loss myself so I can relate to patients. My loss was a loss of twins," said Gonzales. "It was a surprise pregnancy and then even a bigger surprise because it was twins. Come to find out my pregnancy was high-risk and when I went in for a 14-week prenatal appointment neither one of the babies had a heartbeat."
According to Gonzales, as a health care provider it helps her relate to her patients who experience a loss. Typically, patients are offered bereavement counseling and depending on the stage of pregnancy, may also receive a memory box with keepsakes.
"Often when I share my story with patients, they thank me for sharing it with them because they thought they were alone in this loss," said Gonzales. "To know it was a high-risk pregnancy and to know that they might not make it or I was going to have complications, when it happens to you it's devastating, and it was devastating for my husband."
Because loss is felt by the whole family, Bryant states the remembrance is open to all military ID card holders.
"It's so nice we offer this ceremony for any patient because it helps you be able to celebrate the life of the baby," said Gonzales, a mother of three. "It's a remembrance to say we remember that loss, we celebrate their life and will move through the loss. To be around others who have gone through the same thing, it's really strong and helpful. I would encourage anybody to come to this because it's not about bringing up bad memories and causing pain; it's about beginning the healing process and celebrating that life."
In case of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held at the LRMC Chapel.