Fetal Deaths: Stillborn but always loved

Remembrance ceremony gathers Sunday at Riverside

EVERLY Bolger, three months, “will always know she has a brother,” Cori Bolger said, with the help of photos and a commemorative Molly Bear stuffy, which weighs 3.5 pounds, Cole’s birth weight (mollybears.org).

Photo by Trisha Walker.
EVERLY Bolger, three months, “will always know she has a brother,” Cori Bolger said, with the help of photos and a commemorative Molly Bear stuffy, which weighs 3.5 pounds, Cole’s birth weight (mollybears.org).

“You bond. Just because of the outcome does not make Cole any less my child.”

It is that somber maternal insight that Cori Bolger hopes to help others understand at a new remembrance event Sunday, for families who have experienced early loss of a child.

The Family Birth Center at Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital (PHRMH) is hosting an annual Remembrance Ceremony for the parents and families within the community whose babies and/or children have passed away. Those who have been touched by loss are invited to attend the ceremony, which coincides with National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.

At the community event — to be held Oct. 15, at 1 p.m. at Riverside Community Church, 317 State St., Hood River — families will be able to honor their pregnancy, infant or child and meet other individuals and families who have also experienced such profound loss. They will also be able to reconnect with some of the hospital staff that walked alongside them in their journey.

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COLE Bolger’s fingers touch those of his mother, Cori, in this memorial photo taken in June 2015. Photos of each child are an important key to help in grieving. Parents are invited to bring photos and other objects to Sunday’s Remembrance Ceremony at 1 p.m. at Riverside Community Church.

This day is observed annually in the U.S. on Oct. 15, and it’s a day of remembrance for pregnancy loss and infant death, which includes but is not limited to miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS or the death of a newborn, noted Jennifer Lorenzen of PHRMH in a press release.

Started by staff members from the Family Birth Center, the ceremony seeks to ease the pain of families who have lost a child by offering another means of acknowledging and remembering a deeply loved and missed family member. The ceremony will feature special speakers, music and a candle-lighting portion where names of those lost will be read out loud. Parents can submit a photo or item to display to memorialize their pregnancy, infant or child.

“It’s very meaningful to honor the memory of my son and acknowledge that he did exist,” said Bolger, a Family Birth Center registered nurse who experienced the stillbirth of her son, Cole, in the third trimester in 2015. “Time has passed but even small things, like saying his name and spending time remembering him are so healing and important to us as parents. Getting together and honoring our children does help ease some of the pain of losing him and it reminds us that we aren’t alone.”

The care and support given to bereaved parents can help them move through their grief and towards re-establishing their life and dreams. It is also a wonderful opportunity for physicians, nurses and staff involved with these parents to reconnect with them and see their progress towards healing.

“You feel like you are alone, and you are not,” Bolger said. In addition to helping parents process grief, it is hoped that people will connect with others who have experienced a similar loss.

The event also aims to raise awareness and support for grieving parents locally and nationwide. In the United States, there are about 26,000 “fetal deaths” (stillbirths) per year and about 19,000 babies that die within the first month of life. In total, about 1 out of 60 births resulted in stillbirth or neonatal death. When one takes into account the number of miscarriages that occur, that number skyrockets to 1 out of every 4 pregnancies that end in loss. There are approximately 2,500 SIDS deaths each year in the U.S., and it’s the third leading cause of infant mortality.

For more information, or to RSVP to attend and/or participate in the ceremony, contact Lorenzen at 541-490-5816 or email at Jennifer.lorenzen@providence.org.

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