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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Our mourning at the Angel Garden

Many of you know by now that I experienced a miscarriage last October. It has been a very painful experience and the past several months have been the most difficult months of my life. This morning Adam, Jacob, and I were able to attend a remembrance ceremony at the St. Als Angel Garden located at Cloverdale Cemetery. There is a wonderful, tender-hearted gentleman who works in the St. Al's lab who was the driving force in getting the Angel Garden started. St. Al's owns a plot in the cemetery where the remains of miscarried babies under 20 weeks are buried in an unmarked grave. The remains are collected from the lab on a regular basis and taken to the garden in order to provide a place for parents to visit and mourn their loss. There is a beautiful headstone that marks the area.
Once a year, a remembrance ceremony is held for those who have remains buried there, as well as anyone else who has suffered a pregnancy loss. I wish I had known about the garden at the time I miscarried, but since I miscarried naturally at home I had no remains to consider placing in the garden. The ceremony is facilitated by the SHARE support group for early pregnancy loss and infant loss at St. Al's.
The ceremony was beautiful! It started with a prayer and blessing! The following words were so beautifully spoken, "Grant that all who come here may be consoled by the assurance that one day there will be no more sorrow, no more weeping or pain, but only peace and joy."
One of the parents who attends the support group spoke about losing her baby before it was at full-term. She spoke about the "club" she joined when her loss occurred made up of individuals whose new reality is knowing that loss is possible and now a permanent part of life. She also spoke about learning to go on living and finding joy after the loss. The ceremony ended with the release of doves. First, three doves were released to represent the holy trinity. Then three baskets of doves were released to represent the hosts of heaven. Finally, a single dove was released to represent the angel that each of us has lost. It was beautiful watching them all unite as one flock and circle around the cemetery!
At the end of the ceremony, we were each given a seed packet in the shape of an angel to plant in remembrance of the spirit each of us has lost.
We were able to add our own personal touch to the experience. While someone was speaking, Jacob became curious about the baskets of doves. Adam and I watched in horror as he impulsively yanked one of the lids open and the flock began to flap their wings in preparation to fly. One dove managed to escape but we were able to close the lid before the rest could get out. The owner of Breath of Heaven Doves said that it was the first time that had ever happened and that she thought it was kind of funny that it did!
It was a very therapeutic experience for me to attend the ceremony today. I feel more hopeful about recovering from the grief and being able to move on with my life. My due date is coming up next week- June 3rd. I will be happy to move past the date and hopefully feel like some of the emotional load I've been carrying will be lifted.