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Memorial Service

'Losing three babies is an experience that will stay with me forever'

Parents who have lost children will come together for a remembrance service in Cork this evening.

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EVERY HOPE, DREAM and expectation that I had entered the hospital with, had been abruptly replaced with a broken heart, empty arms and, on one occasion, a tiny white box carrying the remains of my baby.

Rachel Rice has miscarried three babies. She is one of several parents who have lost children that will be attending a memorial service in Cork this evening.

Rachel recalls how she felt when leaving Cork University Maternity Hospital after one of her miscarriages:

“I have a very vivid memory of stepping outside the doors of CUMH and being so stunned by what I saw and heard, I literally had to stop and draw breath.

The noise of traffic, cars moving, people walking past with red medical files and visible pregnancy bumps … led to the dawning realisation that the world had just kept going while my world felt like it had just been torn apart.

“Every hope, dream and expectation that I had entered the hospital with, had been abruptly replaced with a broken heart, empty arms and, on one occasion, a tiny white box carrying the remains of my baby.

“I stood there, totally drained and still in pain and began to wonder how I was supposed to re-engage with the world now that I wasn’t pregnant anymore. I had cause to experience this three times over a period of twelve months having had three consecutive miscarriages and each time, I had to draw the same breath.

Rachel had two early-stage miscarriages in July 2010 and February 2011. She lost a third baby, in her second trimester, in July 2011.

Memorial Service

She was at first unsure of whether or not to attend the CUMH memorial service, but is glad she did – and does so every October.

The multi-demoniational service offers an opportunity for parents who have lost a child and medial staff who have helped them through it to come together and remember the babies that have passed away.

During the service a candle is lit for each child being remembered .

“I simply had no idea how many other women, men and children had shared the same pain and loss,” Rachel said.

Each year I go, I sit with my three candles lighting and find myself so grateful for the space and support that allows me to take time out to remember, to be however I need to be, in honouring the lives of those babies whom I never forget and matter so deeply to me.

Rachel has three healthy children – Grace (8), Eve (5) and 20-month-old James, for whom she is deeply grateful.

‘Grief can be very lonely’

Rev Daniel Nuzum, a chaplain at Cork University Hospital, said that the service provides “an opportunity for our bereaved parents to remember their babies who have died and an opportunity for staff also to acknowledge the people we have cared for, and particularly our bereaved families”.

Nuzum said that since the service was set up in 2009, parents who have been recently bereaved, as well as those who lost a child decades ago, have attended.

The memorial is for all parents who have lost a baby – be it during pregnancy, birth or infancy.

“It’s a very tender a very poignant service, and a sad but a hopeful time as well. Grief can be very lonely – at a service like this there is a sense of not being alone,” Nuzum said.

At this year’s memorial, parents will be asked to write something about their child on a printed leaf that will be hung on a ‘remembrance tree’ in the hospital’s prayer room.

The service will take place in the Sacred Heart Church, Western Road, Cork at 7.30pm today.

International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day takes place next Wednesday, 15 October.

Read: Death in the digital age: How does social media affect children’s grief?

Opinion: A loved one’s death is devastating, but you must allow yourself to rebuild your life

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