Churches support grieving parents

Bristol's Cathedral Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, established in 1542, is one of  the many locations in the United Kingdom where Saying Goodbye services are held.

Of course, any loss of life is painful, but perhaps the death of a child is particularly tragic. Recognizing this, some faith groups offer special support to parents who are grieving for the loss of a baby.
While in England last July, I learned about an organization called Saying Goodbye. This nonprofit is dedicated to holding remembrance services for people who have suffered miscarriage, early term loss or early infant loss.
Organizers of this effort are Zoe and Andy Clark-Coates, who have run a number of successful companies and nonprofit projects in the United Kingdom. The couple has suffered the loss of five babies themselves, though they are now the parents of two children.
They “wanted to formally remember the children we have lost” and created this organization “as a legacy in their honor.” The religious services presented “acknowledge these babies, and recognize their wonderful lives, however short they were.”
In the U.K., reportedly one in four pregnancies may end in miscarriage.
“Many people who experience this are left reeling with little sense of how to commemorate a baby who once held all the promise of a life to be lived,” Zoe said. “We want to say our children did exist. They may only have been on this earth for days, weeks or months, but they were truly loved and will always be missed.”
These free remembrance services have been held throughout the U.K. in cathedrals, minsters and other large churches, presided over by Anglican (Episcopal) clergy, but people of all faiths are invited to participate. The format is simple:
– Music by choirs and other musicians
– Poetry or other inspirational readings
– Multi-media presentations
– Prayers
– Sermons with a message of hope
– Symbolic acts by participants, such as ringing hand bells, lighting candles or placing butterflies on a wall of remembrance
– Personal stories from parents who are recovering from such a loss.
Since the loss of a loved one is traumatic, and early loss is often not acknowledged or discussed, a number of agencies offering emotional support services are represented or have information available at these events. For more information, visit
In the United States, the Roman Catholic Church offers a similar outreach ministry, offering hope and healing to men and women who are suffering because of past abortions. Project Rachel is named after Rachel in the book of Jeremiah who is described as “weeping inconsolably for her children who are no more” until God came to her and offered hope for the future.
The project was founded in 1984 in Milwaukee, Wis., and is now active in more than 100 diocese in the United States. It is composed of a network of specially trained clergy, spiritual directors and therapists who provide individual care to those struggling with the aftermath of abortion, and it provides confidential, skilled help to each individual who comes to the ministry.
Although an outreach of the Catholic Church, its services are available to anyone struggling after abortion loss: parents, grandparents, siblings, friends and others who have been impacted. For more information, call 408-426-7343 or visit

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