AUTHOR: Jackie Naginey Hook
Jackie Naginey Hook, MA, is a spiritual director, celebrant and end-of-life doula. She coordinates the Helping Grieving Hearts Heal program through Koch Funeral Home in State College. For more information, please call 814-237-2712 or visit www.kochfuneralhome.com.
AGENCY: Koch Funeral Home
“No one wanted to talk about Noah and he was all consuming to us. We could think or talk of nothing else. We needed validation that he had been here—that his life mattered. We needed to hear his name spoken. People just couldn’t go there with us.” These words spoken by Sarah Wilkerson in the Voices of Grief: Honoring the Sacred Journey describe how she felt after the death of her infant son. These words also describe how many other people feel after the loss of a pregnancy or infant.
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. According to estimates from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage or stillbirth. October is a time to honor these losses and share resources to support the families affected. The local non-profit, Footprints in the Field, is doing that in four ways. First, they are hosting a Remembrance Ceremony at 6 p.m. on October 5 at their remembrance garden on the beautiful grounds of Calvary Harvest Fields, 150 Harvest Fields Drive, Boalsburg. Just as Sarah described above, this ceremony will give families the validation that pregnancies and infants were here and did matter. If they choose, they can even hear their names spoken aloud. All are welcome regardless of religious or spiritual beliefs. Through the generosity of Calvary Harvest Fields, the ceremony will be moved inside in case of inclement weather.
Second, Footprints in the Field is offering a Grief and Loss Support Group for couples who have experienced pregnancy loss, stillbirth and early infant death. These losses can feel intense and isolating. This group is a time to talk to other couples who understand and know you’re not alone. The group is a six-night series held online on Thursdays, October 13 through November 17 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Third, Footprints in the Field encourages everyone to honor Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month by participating in the continuous wave of light on Saturday, October 15 at 7 p.m. Families can light candles in their own homes and be a part of the ceremony spanning the globe to represent the love and light felt for these lost babies.
And fourth, Footprints in the Field invites those who are interested to order memorial stones in honor of pregnancy and infant losses. The baby’s name or other wording can be inscribed on the stones and placed in the Garden for remembrance or kept by the family.
For more information on all of these programs, to order a stone and to make a donation, please visit the Footprints in the Field website at www.footprintsinthefield.org. Support is being provided by Koch Funeral Home.