EDITOR’S NOTE: The Vermont Children’s Hospital at Fletcher Allen is holding its tenth annual Children’s Memorial Service on Sunday, November 18, 2012, 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. at Ira Allen Chapel on the campus of the University of Vermont. The service provides parents and families an annual opportunity to honor the memory of a child who has died, in the presence of other families, caregivers and community members. While this event is presented by the Vermont Children’s Hospital, it is open to all families who have experienced the loss of a child of any age, at any time in their lives, regardless of whether their child was ever a patient at Fletcher Allen. For more information about the service, please contact Marlene Maron, Ph.D, at 802-847-4880.
I lost my daughter Jadyn at 27 months old in 2009 and my daughter Havyn at 22 months old in 2011. Both were born with Mitochondrial disease and spent a lot of time in the PICU (pediatric intensive care unit) and in Baird 5 (the pediatric inpatient floor). I had developed strong relationships with many doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists and staff through the five years my two daughters were there.
This will be my fifth year attending the children’s memorial service at Ira Allen Chapel. I didn’t know what to expect the first year but with my family and friends we thought it would be helpful in the grieving process to attend, especially with Jadyn’s one year anniversary approaching. It was overwhelming to see and feel the love and pain from other families feeling the same way as I did. Some were recent losses and some were not but to see we all still struggled for our children and needed to remember them together was powerful. It was also nice to see familiar faces from Fletcher Allen with doctors, nurses and staff who chose to attend because they truly care for the children and families. I know I became close to a lot of them and have missed seeing them. They see you at your most weakest and vulnerable state.
Losing a child is something like no other pain and something you never want to see someone else go through. Every year I go I see new faces and it hurts to know that they have joined this club not by choice.
Last year was my first year attending for both my daughters and I knew it would be the hardest year. I just sat and listened to the music and words that were said. When you can get up and take a rose and say your child’s name, it was more difficult than I thought it would be having to say both of their names at the memorial for the first time. As was seeing both their pictures during the slide show.
I thought that I would be able to get up and read a piece that I wrote in honor of them but I was too moved and emotional. It amazes me at the strength of the families that come and get up and speak about their child, some with tears in their eyes, some with funny stories and some very emotional…but they do it. With everyone that does get up to speak there is something they say you can relate to and understand. I look forward to the memorial service just to have a day where I can just sit for a few hours and be with people who cry and hurt and remember our children together. The music is beautiful, the slide show is so moving, and the rose remembrance is a graceful honor. The hugs and friends are forever.
Danielle Leo is a guest blogger and a member of the Children’s Memorial Service Planning Committee.