“Perinatal” is not a common word, but parent of a babies who died before, during, or shortly after birth, may be all too familiar with the meaning.
In honor of Perinatal Loss Month, about 30 parents who lost their babies gathered with grandparents, siblings and friends to honor the memory of their lost children at the annual H.U.G.S. “Walk to Remember” ceremony held at DMC Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital this past Saturday.
Organizers of Saturday’s event – Katie Rohrhoff, Dana Abrams, and Colleen Shier – are pediatric nurses at Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital. They are also parents who have all lost babies.
“Some of the parents who come may have recently lost a baby, while some have been coming for years,” commented Shier, who lost a daughter, Melissa, 37 years ago. Shier also facilitates H.U.G.S.’ (Help, Understanding, and Grief Support), a monthly support group for grieving parents held at Huron Valley-Sinai.
This year, the organizers used the real-life recent story of the Orca Whale, Tahlequah, as the theme of the ceremony. Tahlequah is a female Orca who would not let go of her dead baby as she swam across the sea, supported by other female orcas who took turns to help carry the baby’s body so the grieving Mama Orca could eat and rest. “Every parent grieving the loss of a child needs this kind of support, so it was the perfect symbol for this year,” said Rohrhoff.
Parents each received a pink or blue balloon with their baby’s name written on the tag. Some parents held two blue balloons, or one pink and one blue. After a memorial tribute to all the lost babies, the balloons were released in a silent ceremony. Families also received a white rose and a whale-shaped ornament with the baby’s name on it to hang in the Memory Garden on the grounds of Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital.
The Walk to Remember is one of three annual events coordinated by H.U.G.S. The support groups meet monthly on the third Thursday of each month from 7-9 p.m. at DMC Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital. For more information about H.U.G.S. events or support groups, call Communications Manager Jason Barczy at 313-498-8963 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HUGS Walk to Remember 2018 (9): Katie Rohrhoff, RN, and Colleen Shier, RN, with the ornaments honoring their babies Riley and Melissa.
HUGS Walk to Remember 2018 (4): One of the participants hangs the ornament with her child’s name on the Memory Tree in the Memory Garden on the grounds of DMC Huron Valley-Sinai hospital.
HUGS Walk to Remember 2018 (3): The Memory Garden outside of Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital.