FREDERICKTOWN — Dozens of families gathered Sunday afternoon in Fredericktown’s Community Park to honor the memories of babies lost before or soon after birth. The 2009 Babyloss and Healing Memory Walk drew families who have recently suffered miscarriages, stillbirths and infant deaths. Some of the families who came to participate lost babies years ago; one family memorialized a baby lost 25 years ago.
The walk’s founder, Betty Daley, said when the loss was experienced is not what’s important. Instead, the focus is on giving the families the opportunity to publicly honor their babies while bringing those who have experienced loss together to offer support to one another.
“Our goal is to give these people hope and let them know they’re not alone and their babies were special and are remembered,” said Daley.
Betty and her husband, Mike, lost their stillborn son, Caleb Jeremiah, in 2006. After learning about a similar memory walk in the Pacific Northwest, Betty set out to organize a walk for grieving parents in Fredericktown to honor her son, and the lost babies of friends and family.
Attendance at this year’s walk was up significantly from last year, she said, adding that she and Mike were gratified to be able to speak to the parents who participated.
“We got to really talk to a lot of the families,” she said. “I really felt this year we touched a lot more hearts even than last year because we were able to talk to more people one on one.”
Betty and her 14-year-old daughter, Amanda, performed special music. Among the pieces they performed was “Still,” written by Gerrit Hofsink, about the painful experience of losing a baby, as well as the songwriter’s hope to be reunited with a lost baby in heaven.
Betty said she wanted to share the song with the group because of the deep impact it had shown in her own family.
Mike Daley, who serves as a Fredericktown Fire Department chaplain, was the featured speaker.
He told the group each life is important, no matter what the age of the person or how long a person lives, and urged them to continue to honor the memories of their children.
Mike said he felt the walk offered an opportunity for closure to many families who needed a way to publicly honor the lives of their babies.
A balloon release followed the music and speaking. The families were then invited to drop flowers into the river as a memorial.
Fredericktown Mayor Roger Reed signed a proclamation which will make the walk an annual event in Fredericktown.
“I saw a lot of couples and families interacting with each other; supporting each other and telling each other their stories,” said Betty. “They didn’t feel alone anymore.”
Families can find information at the Web site www.babylossandhealing.com.