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Walk to commemorate lost children

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Local residents participate in the 2017 Walk for Remembrance at Nash UNC Health Care.

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BY AMELIA HARPER
Staff Writer

Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Nash UNC Women’s Center is hosting its sixth annual “Walk of Remembrance for Steps Never Taken” at 3 p.m. on Sept. 30 at the Bryant T. Aldridge building on the Nash UNC Health Care campus.

The event is a celebration of life designed to honor all children lost to miscarriage, stillbirth or infant death, said Mary Strickland, director of the Women’s Center at Nash UNC Health Care.

“The Walk of Remembrance is about celebrating the lives of these precious babies, however short they may have been. It’s also a time of fellowship for parents, grandparents and siblings. Losing a child is one of the most difficult experiences a person can go through, and comfort can sometimes be found in talking with others who have suffered this same loss,” Strickland said in a press release from the hospital.

Karen Joyner, a labor and delivery nurse at the Women’s Center, came up with the idea for the Walk of Remembrance.

“Each year, there are families who suffer the loss of a baby, and they often grieve in silence,” Joyner said, “Parents with a stillborn baby or a child who only lived a short time after delivery will always remember and sometimes even celebrate birthdays or due dates for many years.”

Joyner said people who have not suffered the loss often do not understand its impact.

“Friends and family with good intentions sometimes try to console parents but comments often center on getting over the loss. Instead, most grieving parents prefer to remember and celebrate the child they knew so briefly. Three years after one mother lost her child, she said, ‘Today is my baby’s birthday and nobody remembers him but me.’ Forgetting is not an option and is one of the many reasons we choose to remember these babies and celebrate life,” Joyner said.

Parents are encouraged to send their baby’s name and birth date to karen.joyner@unchealth.unc.edu in advance so that the name can be added to the honorary banner and read aloud. Families also will be invited to join in a balloon release to honor the children they have lost.

After the ceremony, participants will be invited to take the short, symbolic walk to represent the “footsteps never taken.” In addition to honoring these short lives, this event also helps participants connect more fully with loved ones and community members about the experience.

Last year’s walk brought out roughly 350 participants, said John Griffin, a marketing and communications representative for Nash UNC Health Care.

Anyone wishing to participate is invited to join in the walk. Refreshments will be served after the walk. Registration for the free event begins at 2 p.m. on Sept. 30.

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