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Memorial service helps families deal with loss

Dealing with the loss of a newborn can be extremely difficult for parents and can result in a host of unexpected emotions from shock, grief, depression, guilt, anger and more. Sometimes the most important thing for a family dealing with loss is to know they are not alone.

For the past nine years, Geisinger has organized a bereavement program for families who are dealing with infant loss. Families who have lost a child either during pregnancy or within the first year of life are invited to attend the event. This year’s event was held Sept. 22 at Brookpark Farm in Lewisburg.

“We had eight families and 11 Geisinger Medical Center staff members attend this year’s service,” said Allison Farley, perinatal social worker for the Center for Prenatal Pediatrics.

The service began at 6:30 p.m. with families and staff mingling over appetizers with musical accompaniment. The ceremony began at 7 p.m. with the Rev. Jasmine Loney, neonatal intensive care unit chaplain, officiating. During the service, families were given a piece of water soluble paper on which they wrote an emotion or thought that they wanted to ease or diminish. They placed this in a dish of water on their way outside for the conclusion of the ceremony.

“Thich Nhat Hanh says, ‘The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green Earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive,'” Rev. Loney quoted. “For parents who have lost a child, it is indeed a miracle to walk on this green Earth without their child. For them, to feel ‘truly alive’ is to feel the pain of their loss, to grieve and to return to the present moment where they can be ‘normal’ again.”

Outside each family was given a sky lantern with their child’s name on it. As the names of their children were read, the lanterns were lit and released.

“Parents have shared that the service gives them a nudge forward, to be more mindfully engaged in their healing process,” Rev. Loney said.

Donations to Children’s Miracle Network at Geisinger provide the funds to make this ceremony possible.

“Without the support of Children’s Miracle Network at Geisinger, we would not be able to continue to put this event together every year,” said Ms. Farley. Make a donation today to continue to help fund programs like the memorial service and put your money where the miracles are!