William Beaumont Army Medical Center Maternal-Child Health Services and Department of Ministry and Pastoral Care held an observance for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day at WBAMC chapel, on Oct 14, 2022.
During the event, Capt. Alexandra P. Manjarrez, the clinical nursing officer in charge of Mother Baby & Special Care Nursery at WBAMC gave a historical overview and recited a poem called “Walk to Remember”. Family and friends who attended the event were given battery powered candles. Historically, a candle is lit for each loss throughout the globe, signifying a wave of light in remembering.
“The walk to remember ceremony is intended to bring awareness and support to pregnancy and infant loss. Remembering a deceased loved one is an important part of the healing journey, especially when that loss may oftentimes be “invisible” such as in the case of early pregnancy loss. We intended to create a safe space to grieve, remember, and support those who have suffered such loss,” said Manjarrez.
Families during the ceremony shared a solemn walk of remembrance illuminated by the candles as an act of reflection. The shining light symbolizes the baby's short time and the lasting impact that life left on their family.
The Maternity ward keeps a record of the families who deliver deceased babies and makes frequent follow-up calls to check in with them and consult with a bereavement counselor through the OB/GYN clinic.
“One in four women who become pregnant will experience a miscarriage or pregnancy loss. This shocking statistic, often not known by many, affects so many who will need and appreciate a helping hand, shoulder to lean on, or even allowance to discuss their experience of grieving through this loss,” said Manjarrez.
In 1988, President Ronald Reagan declared October as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Over time, Oct. 15 became recognized as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. The monthly theme also gives families a chance to share the memories of their lost children due to miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy, stillbirths, birth abnormalities, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and other reasons.
The possibility of loss is not limited to the maternity ward, other departments across WBAMC train in bereavement care to promote knowledge and awareness of parents' grief and emotional states.