COLUMBIA – Five candles lit the front of the chapel as silent tears dampened the tissues of grieving parents. Each candle represented an emotion — love, hope, grief, courage and memory.
In honor of National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day on Friday, a candlelight prayer service was hosted Thursday by the Mothers of Preschoolers organization at Missouri United Methodist Church.
Mothers of Preschoolers listed the following resources its members found helpful for coping with pregnancy and infant loss:
- Share: Pregnancy and infant loss support
- Parents of Infants and Living Children: Parenting after loss
- Stepping Stones: Offering Christian support for couples facing infertility or pregnancy loss
This was the third annual service the group has held, giving parents who have lost children and those supporting them a place to share their emotions.
"It's kind of a topic that doesn't get much attention," said Lori Richardson, who has been a member of Mothers of Preschoolers for six years.
She attended last year's service as well and added that the event acts as an open and safe space for people to express their pain.
The service started with an opening prayer by the Rev. Amy Gearhart. Participants were then given the opportunity to light a candle in remembrance of a lost child. After a call-and-response reading, Gearhart encouraged grieving parents to turn to Scripture for comfort.
Gearhart questioned how sensations such as laughter and anguish could possibly fit together but pointed out that they do when a person loses a child.
Instead of transitioning between speakers with moments of silence, music about love, loss and God's compassion was played.
Attendees were encouraged to share their stories. Some included many details while others shared only short poems; some had prewritten notes and others stood to speak spontaneously.
Kelli Thomas ended her story of loss with the poem "My Grief is Like a River" by Cinthia G. Kelley.
"I don't know if I'll ever reach the shore, but at least I'm swimming in that direction," Thomas concluded in her own words.