Whether it is at five weeks or 40 weeks, when it comes to losing a child, the loss is the same.
Dr. Jason Goodman of Elizabethtown Physicians For Women said in those situations, it is challenging to find the right words to say to the family.
“The joy that families have around pregnancies is what brings us to do this,” Goodman told those in attendance Tuesday evening at Hardin Memorial Health’s pregnancy and infant loss remembrance ceremony at Freeman Lake Park. “It is the most wonderful thing in the world to put a baby in a mom’s arms. And it is the most terrible thing in the world to have to walk into a room and tell a mom that her baby is no longer with us.
“When I have to tell a parent that I’m sorry their baby is gone, it is so hard because I know my words. They seem so empty in such a time of loss, but all we can do is try to be there for that family,” he added.
Goodman, who has experienced losses himself, said telling parents their child is gone is one of the hardest things he’s ever had to do. In his training, he said he had to go into rooms and talk to families about their loved ones dying from cancer or various illnesses. The loss of a child, he said, is not the same.
“Every time I do this, I think about my own experiences. We try to be professional, we try to be strong for families because we know they are going through the toughest time in their life,” Goodman said.
“You are never really completely healed. It gets better but takes a long time. … Fortunately, sometimes I get to see patients back with another pregnancy and it can be so scary, but I feel like my job there is to let them know things don’t always have to turn out bad.”
Goodman’s perspective as a doctor was one of several given at Tuesday’s remembrance ceremony, where dozens of people gathered under the Searle Pavilion and shared stories, had a candle lighting and released flowers with the names of their lost babies into the water.
At one point, the group sang “This Little Light of Mine” to the strumming of a guitar.
The event coincided with the October observance of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day annually is observed Oct. 15.
HMH nurse Betty Mahanna said President Ronald Reagan made the declaration in 1988. She said Reagan declared it with these words: “When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them. This month recognizes the loss so many parents experience across the United States and around the world.”
“It’s a time we all come together and remember our babies,” she said.
From a nurse perspective, Michelle Estes said she never completely knows what to say when a couple loses their baby.
“I don’t know if we ever truly know what to say,” she said. “But what I have learned is that much of the time it is not what we say, but it is just the presence of being there and being supportive.”
Estes said she thinks that is a valuable lesson from a nurse’s experience.
“It is not always about just the strict professionalism and knowing the words to say but learning to be that presence that is comforting to that mom and dad and family,” she said.
Also at the ceremony, Adam and Chelsea Ballard shared the story of their son, Alakai.
“We are all here for the same reason, which is to remember all the beautiful babies,” Adam said.