Every life is important, no matter how long or short it is lived.
This was the message to all gathered in person and online for Tepeyac OB/GYN’s annual Infant Memorial Service, held on October 17, 2020 in honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. Each year, the service brings together Tepeyac patients and families to honor and mourn the lives of children they have lost. The event is organized and funded by Divine Mercy Care.
The interdenominational ceremony, led this year by Father Whitestone of Saint Leo the Great Catholic Church in Fairfax and Pastor Brandon Hembree of IMPACT Church in Centreville, included a moving reflection by Dr. John Bruchalski. As he explained, being able to accompany families through loss and being able to bear witness to parents’ courage in the face of losing a child is the very definition of what it means to practice life-affirming medicine. While others in medicine tell parents to forget, Dr. Bruchalski expressed his gratitude to families for allowing Tepeyac doctors to remember, “Watching you love your children for as long as you were given to do so takes our breath away.”
An important and powerful part of the annual service is the recognition of each child by name. Divine Mercy Care prepared Certificates of Life for 22 babies this year. Thanks to DMC donors, each family also received a keepsake ornament and a memory box. Parents and siblings were then invited to light a candle and share a reflection. Together all the families lit candles in the knowledge that their children now live eternally in the light of Christ’s love. They lit candles as a sign of love that cannot be extinguished. As the candles were lit, all present prayed for consolation, for courage, for healing and for hope.
Special thanks go to all who made this special and moving event possible, including Anna O’Neill and DMC Board member, Monique Baroudi. Monique’s mother and long time DMC supporter, Pat Fauquet, prepared beautiful embroidered cross ornaments for each baby. Tepeyac OB/GYN Executive Director Kathleen Cullen and staffers Alana Csoka and MaryEllen Puckett participated in the memorial service and are the very special people responsible for providing ongoing support to patients suffering pregnancy loss and administering Tepeyac’s Kristen Anderson Perinatal Hospice program. Sincere thanks to Debbie Wallace and Bob and Therese Downey for providing beautiful music at the service and to Saint Leo the Great Catholic Church for hosting and providing a live stream of the event to families that could not attend in person.
Kathryn M. Doherty
DMC Board Chair