2021 - September - Gazette - A Place to Take Your Grief

By: Jackie Naginey Hook
Thursday, September 30, 2021

A Place to Take Your Grief

When my husband and I were living through the years of losing our first six pregnancies, angels became significant to me. Angels symbolized the lives that began in me and abruptly ended but continued on in the afterlife. In a culture that doesn’t always recognize these kinds of losses, the angels also symbolized that the pregnancies were real and after years of fertility issues, that future pregnancies were possible. Angels helped me mourn and brought me comfort and hope.

After our third pregnancy loss we hung three artistic angels made of ribbon in a prominent spot on the wall of our Orlando home, and added an angel with each new loss. I’d see them every day and find some peace. And then on a late fall day one year an unexpected package arrived at our front door. I opened it and was filled with gratitude. My mom, who is the quintessential holiday celebrator, had gone through all of her Christmas tree ornaments, found every angel she had, carefully packed them in a box and sent them to me – pewter angels, glass angels, ceramic angels, some with notes of their origin. She knew what angels meant to me and wanted me to be surrounded by them and her love. It worked.

Holidays were especially challenging times when I was grieving but starting that year and every year since, we’ve hung those angels on our tree and we’ve remembered. Early on the angels brought more tears; later they brought stories and gratitude for our family. Our daughter and son recognize the angel ornaments’ significance and talk about their meaning. One year we added a homemade, ceramic heart ornament originally made for a good friend’s baby shower but instead was used as a memento of her twin’s lives that sadly ended before full term. We’ve hung that ornament and remembered. We’ve felt gratitude as well. Gratitude for her two children who continue to grow and fill her life with joy today. For years, our angels have been places we’ve taken our grief and found solace and healing.

When you experience a pregnancy loss, stillbirth or early infant death, there aren’t many places to take your grief. The nurses at Mount Nittany Medical Center do an incredible job of providing mementos if the loss occurred there, but not every loss does.  Sometimes there are burial plots, gravestones and urns, but again not for every loss. Grieving families need to know their pregnancies and infants were real and mattered – a place to take their grief helps with healing.

Thankfully in our area, we have Footprints in the Field. This is a pregnancy and infant loss remembrance garden on the beautiful grounds of Calvary Harvest Fields. Families can take their grief here, soak in the healing surroundings of nature, remember and find comfort.  

In 1988, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed October as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. To kick off this month, Footprints in the Field is holding a Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Ceremony at 6 p.m. on October 6 at the garden, 150 Harvest Fields Drive, Boalsburg.  This will be a time of coming together outdoors, honoring our grief, remembering our pregnancies and infants and recognizing that we’re not alone. You are invited to join us. In addition, you are invited to contribute to the efforts to finish completing the garden with plantings and engraved river rocks representing the lost babies.  For more information, please visit the Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/FootprintsintheField and to support Footprints in the Field, visit: https://www.gofundme.com/f/footprints-in-the-field.

An additional invitation for couples who have experienced pregnancy and/or infant loss is to join the HEART – Helping Empty Arms Recover Together – Virtual Grief and Loss Support Program. Details of this program are available below in the listing of upcoming community outreach programs. 

For more information, please visit the Bereavement Gatherings and Events page on the Koch Funeral Home website. To reserve your spot and receive the invitation links, email Jackie@JackieHook.com, call 814-237-2712 or visit the Koch Funeral Home Facebook page @kochFH. If there are changes to our in-person gatherings because of COVID, we will provide updates on the website.

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.

Leave a comment
Name*:
Email:
Comment*:
Please enter the numbers and letters you see in the image. Note that the case of the letters entered matters.

Comments

Please wait

Previous Posts

2021 - Oct - CDT - Active Life

Community I’ve been thinking about the beauty of “community” lately. In my work, I have the privilege of seeing it time and time again. We invite people to gather together around a specific event,...

2021 - August - Gazette - Courage

Courage While driving through the western U.S. on a recent trip, I was struck by several acts of courage I saw during my travels. Park rangers at the Grand Canyon who walked out on the sheer ledge...

2021 - August - CDT - Helping Hands

I’ll always remember where I was. Like many other Tuesday mornings, I was following along with my Rodney Yee morning yoga DVD while our infant son lay next to me. When I finished, the TV was on NBC...

2021 - July - Gazette - Life with Tears & Laughter

Life with Tears & Laughter When people from a Christian tradition provide me with the honor of officiating their loved one’s funeral services, a common scripture reading they request comes fro...

2021 - June - Gazette - Intimacy with Disappearance

Intimacy with Disappearance In his meditation on vulnerability, poet and author David Whyte wrote: “…The only choice we have as we mature is how we inhabit our vulnerability, how we become larger...

2021 - May - Gazette - Breathe in Moments

Breathe in Moments One by one each of us entered the glass-enclosed circular chapel in the mountains of North Carolina. We removed our shoes and quietly sat down in a circle in the center of the r...

2021 - April - Gazette - Tending Your Inner Garden

Tending Your Inner Garden Wow, each spring I’m surprised. I forget how beautiful things are as nature comes back to life and I’m filled with wonder again and again. The vibrant colors of flowering...

2021 - April - CDT - Helping Hands

After I officiated at a relative’s memorial service a few years ago, an out-of-town family member shared with me about his wishes concerning his own death. He said he wanted to be cremated without ...

2021 - March - Gazette - Leaning into Sorrow

Leaning into Sorrow I will never forget the time I was chatting with a group of people around a hi-top table at an evening fundraiser and was asked about my work. I explained that I work with Koch...

2021 - March - CDT - Active Life

Comfort on Both Sides of the Parting A very wise woman recently told me that many wedding vows are inaccurate. When the couple commits to “until death do us part,” that doesn’t include the whole s...