Parents, families cope with loss at infant remembrance service

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By Sarah Bennett

With the soft sounds of an acoustic guitar in the background, the Armstrong family stood in front of a crowd Sunday at the Brown-Pusey House in Elizabethtown. Holding a candle, Pam Armstrong explained through tears that her son, Wesley Armstrong, would have turned 12 Sunday.


“How tall would you be?” she asked. “What interests would you have?”

The names of 22 infants were read at the annual Family Remembrance Service, an event Hardin Memorial Hospital has sponsored since 1993, said Geri Reynolds, family support nurse at the HMH birthplace unit.

Held every year on the first Sunday in October, the event helps parents “keep the memory alive” of children lost during pregnancy, at birth or during early infancy, Reynolds said.

Armstrong said Wesley was still born. Four months after the still birth, she lost another child, Faith, during pregnancy.

With her Sunday were her husband, Ricky, and their two children, Hallie, 10, and Seth, 8.

In addition to a gospel reading and reflection by Rev. Donnie Davis of Round Top Baptist Church in Elizabethtown, the service offered parents “many avenues to heal,” Reynolds said, such as a candle lighting, reading of the infants’ names, memory walk and dove release.

While tears could be seen and heard throughout the service, the candle lighting and name reading yielded the most emotion from the service’s 48 attendants. Along with a program and a paper crane, families were given packages of tissues before the service.

As volunteers read the names of the children and dates of birth and death, members of the family walked to the front to receive a candle. To simply say the child’s name aloud is powerful for these parents, Reynolds said.

Some families were there to remember a child lost nearly 20 years ago. One infant who’s name was called died less than a month ago.

After the candle lighting, attendants walked through the Brown-Pusey House garden where volunteers released three doves that flew into a nearby tree when released. It was not until several minutes later when attendants joined hands and began to sing the Lord’s Prayer that the doves flew out of sight.

October is pregnancy loss awareness month, Reynolds said, and Oct. 15 is pregnancy and infant loss remembrance day. At 7 p.m., parents light a candle to remember their lost children.

Sarah Bennett can be reached at (270) 505-1750 or sbennett@thenewsenterprise.com.