A new Bellingham support group for parents who have lost babies in pregnancy, at birth, or in the first year of life, was the result of a brainstorming session by three local women.
The support group is called Mending Babyloss and, as part of National Infant Loss Awareness Month, is organizing the area’s first Remembrance Walk and Ceremony.
The event, the group’s first fundraiser, will take place Sunday, Oct. 11 and will involve a labyrinth walk in Fairhaven created by Myra Smith of Laughing Flower Labyrinth and Landscape Co.
Mary Burgess, the author of “Mending Invisible Wings: A Healing Journal for Mothers,” talked about the project along with Christine Gibbs, a licensed midwife and registered nurse who is co-owner of Bellingham Birth Center.
Question: Who is the event for?
Burgess: The event is open to parents, family and friends, and community professionals who work with these issues of baby loss. We will acknowledge, honor and remember babies lost, and their parents on their grief journey.
The event will start with a meditative labyrinth walk at the Village Green. A memorial walk will follow to Taylor Dock, with a ceremonial scattering of rose petals on the bay. There will be walks all over the country, but this is the first such event in Bellingham.
Q: What is Mending Babyloss?
Burgess: It’s a new bereavement support group for parents who have lost a baby anywhere from pregnancy through the first year of life. It’s not a business, but a genuine support group.
Gibbs: We’ll begin holding regular meetings Nov. 5 on alternate Thursday evenings, with six sessions over 12 weeks. Information will be available at our first Remembrance Walk, which we plan to make an annual event. We’re figuring on about 12 to 15 parents per session, and men are welcome as well as women.
Q: Why the need for a support group?
Gibbs: We want to break through the isolation so many grieving people feel, and create connections. It’s for people who have experienced a loss, whether recently or years ago.
Burgess: More and more couples find themselves very much alone after the loss of a baby. It’s especially difficult during milestones like holidays and birthdays. I know from experience, because I lost my first baby late in my first trimester. I have two children, 6 and 9.
Q: How did all this come about?
Gibbs: Mary Burgess and social worker Mary Hanson Adler and I came up with it together. We had talked about how several babies had been lost during the spring in Bellingham. Mary Adler didn’t have any support group to refer local people to. When we realized there was no support group north of Everett, we formed one.
Burgess: It’s hard to explain, but we really did come up with this at the same time. Collectively, we felt this huge need.
IF YOU GO
What: A Remembrance Walk and Ceremony for Pregnancy and Infant Loss.
When: 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 11. Registration begins 3:45 p.m.
Where: Fairhaven Village Green to Taylor Dock. People who have lost children are invited to bring a special bead in honor of your lost baby, to be added to a birth-loss necklace.
Suggested donation: $10 individuals, $15 couples.