The Norfolk and Norwich Christian community website

Lynn church marks infant loss for toddler group

Youth worker Claire Archer from King’s Lynn Baptist Church reflects on a yearly service of remembrance she has started for her parent and toddler group to mark pregnancy and infant loss.  

The Ark Parent and Toddler Group started 14 years ago at King’s Lynn Baptist Church.  I have been helping to run it for the last six years when I started working for the church and took my youngest to the group.  At the time I was still very much recovering from the death of my second baby, at only two and a half days old.  I didn’t talk much about that time but more recently I have come to know some mums at the group who have been through similar experiences. 
As we shared our stories, the mums asked whether we could hold a service to commemorate Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day on October 15, 2015.  My instant reaction was to say ‘yes’ but reflecting afterwards, I had never been to any service like this, was not sure what it would involve and was also unsure of my own emotions.
I did a bit of research and we talked together about what kind of service we wanted to hold.  We wished to make people feel welcome and at ease as we were aware how emotional the service could be. Two of the mums prepared crafts to do on arrival – a sand bottle (making our own ‘sand’ out of chalks and salt with colours of significance for our personal journey) and braiding a keyring from different ribbons and yarns. 
I planned to share some of my story and our pastor agreed to tie it all together with a short talk focussing on the hope we can all have for the future.  One of the mums prepared a remembrance board and table where we could add photos or any other items to help us remember our babies.  Together with a couple of poems we hoped this would achieve space to remember in a supportive atmosphere with all those attending being able to leave strengthened by our time together.
Social media proved very helpful in getting the word round and we were surprised by the new faces that turned up for the evening.  We also used social media to gather babies’ names to read out as part of our remembrance time and people contributed to this list even if they couldn’t make it to the service. 
At the end of the service we reflected on new friendships made with a common bond between us; tears shed, some more discreet than others; a discovery that our pastor also had walked a road that we had not known before; and a relief that this had been a hopeful uplifting experience where our babies’ short time on this earth had been remembered, marked and valued. 
I have since been to a service where a written order was followed and I know that was helpful to many.  Our own ‘home grown’ service reflected where we were and met our particular needs.  Most valuable for me was the time and space to talk, be listened to and listen in turn to parents who might not always feel so open to share such personal memories.  This service provided just that opportunity, so much so that we will mark Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day with a service in 2016 too.
This is a poem written for the service by Lisa Calvert, one of the parents,:

We are here to remember all our dear precious angels, here to light the special candles.
When we look up to the sky, some days I know I cry.
When the sun is shining bright, the warmth of the sun light.
Every day is different to bear, wondering if others think or care.
Time just passing us by, always trying think, “Is there a reason why?”
All the time that passes we miss each one of you so dear, as we are often at a loss here.
Memories to share together. Each memory etched in our hearts forever.

This article was also included in the latest Care for the Family’s Playtime Newletter

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