October 21, 2005

St. Francis Walk to Remember on Oct. 22
helps grieving families cope with infant death

By Mary Ann Wyand

Babies aren’t supposed to die, but sometimes medical complications end their young lives during pregnancy or shortly after their birth.

This year marks the 20th annual Walk to Remember sponsored by St. Francis Hospital in Beech Grove for families who have lost children through miscarriage, stillbirth or newborn death.

This year’s walk on Oct. 22 helps grieving families remember and honor their deceased children. The 11 a.m. walk is open to families who have experienced infant loss.

Families are invited to gather at St. Francis Hospital, 1600 Albany St. in Beech Grove, then walk to the nearby Sarah T. Bolton Park, 1300 Churchman Ave. in Beech Grove, for a memorial ceremony.

Family members will read poems written about their children, and hospital staff members will read the names of more than 400 babies who died during the past two decades. Families also will write their deceased children’s names on helium-filled balloons, which will be released during the ceremony. A reception at the park will follow the service.

Marcia Jenkins, a registered nurse who also ministers as the St. Francis infant bereavement coordinator, has helped grieving families cope with infant loss since 1992. She also coordinates the hospital’s Memories to Hold support group, similar to the Resolve Through Sharing program, for grieving parents.

October is National Infant Loss Month, Jenkins said, and families who have lost children are invited to join the walk.

“I think it’s very important that we’re celebrating our 20th year for Walk to Remember,” she said. “We welcome anyone in the community that has lost a child through infant loss, whether that would be ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death, to join us.”

She said St. Francis Hospital has partnered with other area hospitals for eight years to present this memorial service for grieving families.

“We are going to have the founders of [the national] Resolve Through Sharing [support group] from LaCrosse, Wis., here as our honored guests,” Jenkins said, “and they will walk with us in this Walk to Remember.”

Jenkins said hospital caregivers also are encouraged to participate in the memorial service.

“It’s an absolute privilege to be a caregiver who gets to walk alongside these families as they begin this grief journey,” she said, “one that they never anticipated, one that they can’t even begin to see where it is going to lead, and that they think this path has no end. Just to be there and help them make small steps is a privilege—being there to support them as they have to make those early decisions … about their child who has died.” †

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