Chaplain's Corner

Service of Remembrance

  • Larry Hirst, Author
  • Retired Chaplain, Bethesda Place

15 years ago, I was asked if I might plan an annual service for families who experienced pregnancy and infant loss. We have held that service every year and on Wednesday, June 27th at 1:00 p.m. at the Heritage Cemetery on Loewen Blvd we will hold this annual service once more. The significance of the service is twofold: First, to affirm the personhood of those children who die during their development within their mother’s wombs; and 2) to help parents who suffered such losses know that their grief is legitimate and needs to be recognized and supported.

Culturally Canada has become increasing secular. The laws of our land in relation to the unborn are such that the unborn are not recognized as persons. These precious little one’s are relegated to being “tissue” or called by some clinical phrase as “products of conception”. This is of course due to the pro- choice agenda that has led to the legalization of abortion. This influential group that puts the rights of the woman who in many cases had a choice related to the pregnancy, over those unborn children who have no choice and are utterly dependent on whether the woman carrying the child wants the responsibility that accompanies having a child. After all, it is much easier to think about removing some unwanted tissue from a woman’s uterus than to think about tearing a baby from its mother’s womb.

The Christian faith has always honored the unborn as persons. The Christian faith views each unborn child as a gift from God and has been responsible to a large degree for many of the extraordinary efforts that are taken to save children with difficulties once they are born. I have always found it rather perplexing that one doctor can so easily destroy the life of an unborn child because the mother has chosen to do so and sometimes in the very same building a team of health care professionals will work using the latest medical techniques and equipment to save the life of a child born prematurely. It is a curious contradiction that exists in our health care system.

The loss of an unborn child through miscarriage is traumatic. Yet it is treated so causally. To the mother and father that experience the loss, it is the death of their child, it is the death of the dreams that have already been developing for that child, the death of the hopes of bringing the child into the family and opening their hearts to a new person. I know, as my wife and I experienced this loss five times in the early years of our marriage. No one supported my wife and I. No one seemed to think it was a big deal, it was simply something that happens, and that “you’ll get over” and life will go on.

I recall the first time we lost a child to miscarriage. A shower had already been held, baby clothing, blankets, all those things needed for the arrival of the baby were being gathered, then out of the blue, the baby was gone. What were we to do? Should we return the baby gifts? Should we print some announcement? No one seemed to care. Our hearts were broken. I was so angry at God I didn’t know what to do. We did get through it, over and over and over again; but it would have been so much easier if someone would have come up beside us and cared that we had lost a child.

This year I will be joined again by Candace Loewen, who through her and her husband’s loss has started a chapter of Share: Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support her in Steinbach. If you have experience such a loss, join us at the service, meet Candace and Join Share for ongoing support. God Bless!

Chaplain's Corner was written by Bethesda Place now retired chaplain Larry Hirst. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely that of the writer and do not represent the views or opinions of people, institutions or organizations that the writer may have been associated with professionally.