I went to a "Service of Remembrance" yesterday at the hospital where Grady (and Emma Grace and Matthew) were born. Grady was not being honored, but I was invited and chose to attend. I went simply to support the families of the babies who were being honored. It is complicated to describe exactly what this ceremony was about, but I'll do my best.
Until recently, and with many hospitals, when a pregnancy is lost in the early weeks the only option for the "fetal remains" is "hospital disposal". I hate both of those terms in quotes, by the way. Through the efforts of the bereavement committee and a few key individuals, they are now able to offer something more. Families may choose to have the baby cremated with other babies at a funeral home and have the ashes buried together in the memorial garden at the hospital. Yesterday was the first remembrance ceremony to honor those babies.
There was a good turnout of families, and I sat next to a lady who was instrumental in getting this put into action. I noticed someone's keys and program were in the seat to my right, and when the lady sat down, I made sure to ask if she was saving that seat for anyone else. She said no.
I continued talking to the lady to my left and finally introduced myself to the lady to my right. We had a short conversation as she was too upset to talk. The chapel began filling, and I was afraid they weren't going to have enough seats. I looked at the lady to my right, we'll call her "K", and told her that I was going to go stand in the back because I wanted someone else to have the seat if they wanted it. To my surprise, she said something like, "Oh you can stay next to me and be my support. I'm here alone and am not doing very good".
So I did.
I put my arm around her and gave her a little squeeze and told her I would stay and support her. Through our conversation that followed, I was amazed by the details of everything that happened surrounding her baby's death. The ceremony was the first thing she had done to recognize her loss, and she said she felt like she was ready to start doing more. I was able to share some suggestions with her and encourage her that it does get easier. It has been almost 11 months since her baby went to heaven.
After the ceremony in the garden, I thought I would go inside to find her gone. But nope. That sweet woman waited for me to thank me and say goodbye. I gave her my information and truly do hope that she will reach out to me. I told her that I don't always have the right thing to say but am a good listener.
I share this not to toot my own horn, but to share what a heart God has given me for bereaved and hurting people. Funny thing is that as I was driving to the ceremony yesterday, I actually questioned myself as to why I was going. And in that thought process, I realized my deep desire just to be there for others and provide a little comfort and encouragement if possible.
God, on the other hand, had a divine appointment for me and "K" to meet. And if we never meet again, I hope the time and words we shared left a little spark of hope in her heart.