by Joe Bollig
OVERLAND PARK — Odds are you know someone who has experienced the death of a child during pregnancy or soon after birth, but you don’t know it.
It’s more common than you think.
In the instance of miscarriage, a couple may have kept their pain private.
“Everyone knows someone who has lost a child,” said Libby DuPont, consultant with the archdiocesan marriage and family life office. “The person may not have shared this. People talk more openly today than they used to.”
“But especially in the case of a miscarriage,” she continued, “this is part of the grief that goes along with it. Here is a couple who has lost a child, and nobody knows.”
People, when they know, want to be sympathetic and supportive. Unfortunately, they sometimes don’t know what to say and, although well-meaning, can say unhelpful or hurtful things.
“Sometimes [parents] have this feeling that they should ‘just snap out of it,’ or ‘just move on,’ or people tell them, ‘Well, you’ll have another baby,’” said DuPont. “They can almost feel crazy for feeling so hurt. They feel alone in their suffering, or wonder: ‘Why is this affecting me so much?’
“Well, they’re sad because their baby died.”
While some families can find consolation in a funeral and burial and visits to a grave, other parents who have lost a baby early in pregnancy may not even have that.
For grieving parents, siblings, relatives and friends, the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas offers an opportunity to remember and heal.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann will be the main celebrant at the annual Mass of Innocents at 12:30 p.m. on Oct. 1 at Holy Spirit Parish, 11300 W. 103rd St., Overland Park.
“[The Mass] recognizes and commemorates these losses, and the church grieves with these families,” said Brad DuPont, consultant with the archdiocesan marriage and family life office.
“It’s so people know they are not alone in their suffering,” he said. “When people join in our sufferings, it gives those who are suffering courage to persevere, and to grieve with hope for their children, and hope for the future of their families.”
One of the three key initiatives in Archbishop Naumann’s 10-year mutually shared vision is this: to strengthen the vocation of marriage and family life.
“One of the greatest stresses a marriage and family can experience is the loss of a child,” said Brad DuPont. “Husbands and wives can feel alone in their suffering, and it can be difficult to turn to one another and share that experience of vulnerability.”
“One of the greatest ways for couples to bridge that gap caused by grief is through prayer,” he explained. “Prayer can be the healing salve that couples need to restore a sense of hope and approach the experienced of joy once again.
“In this light, the Mass of Innocents is a way for couples to strengthen their own marriage by tapping more deeply into God’s healing power.”
Some people who have experienced the loss of a child come to the Mass every year, said the DuPonts. Some who come never had the chance to grieve.
“Some couples and individuals come to the Mass whose loss was 30 years ago, and finally they have a chance to recognize [their child],” said Libby DuPont.
During the Mass, parents will have an opportunity to commemorate their child by signing a book, which will be prayed over by Archbishop Naumann.
Anyone may come to worship at the Mass, and registration is not required.
Light refreshments will be offered at a reception after the Mass.
For information, contact Brad DuPont by email at: bdupont@arch kck.org; call the archdiocesan marriage and family life office at (913) 647-0301; or go to the website at: www.archkck.org/family.