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A memorial service and candle lighting in honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day will take place on Saturday, Oct. 15 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Central Park in Ashland near the fountain. The event is presented by King’s Daughters Medical Center Women’s Services program.

Cathie Whitt, a nurse in labor and delivery at King’s Daughters, coordinates the annual event. “It is important to have the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day because so many moms and dads who have suffered these losses, especially early ones, don’t have a physical place to visit to remember and to celebrate the existence of the short and precious lives of their babies. Many don’t even have a picture or a physical reminder,” said Whitt.

The service begins with a balloon release symbolizing the importance of letting go of grief and honoring the lives and memories of the infants lost. A speaker will address attendees, followed by the candle lighting ceremony. Families will then read the names of their babies.

Whitt has herself experienced such loss, and her work with mothers in the labor and delivery unit gives her special passion for the cause. In addition to overseeing the annual Remembrance Day service, she also conducts a pregnancy and infant loss support group.  The group meets at 7 p.m. on the second Thursday of every month in the KDMC Health Education Center, located in the lower level of the Lexington Avenue parking facility.

“Sometimes we have as many as 30 parents in attendance at the support group and other times maybe only a handful.  Even if someone doesn’t attend, perhaps it will be a comfort to them to know the group is there any time they need it,” said Whitt.

Keri Kitchen of Grayson, an active support group member, said these events and programs for grieving parents are invaluable. Kitchen delivered twins in April, a son, Paxton Cole, and a daughter, Carys Rainn.  Carys survived less than eight hours after delivery. She was diagnosed with anencephaly, a neural tube defect, when Kitchen was only 16 weeks pregnant.

“I think our situation was unique.  We knew in December that Carys would not live long.  These programs give parents the chance to grieve and share the memories of their child

with others who have been through similar losses.  Sometimes people who haven’t been through this don’t fully understand that parents still need to grieve, even for infants they never got to spend a minute with,” Kitchen said.

Kitchen, a counselor with Pathways, said that she and her husband, Aaron, who works with Fifth Third Bank, will both attend the Remembrance Day to light a candle and remember their precious moments with Carys.

Kitchen said she wants to be involved and help grieving parents any way she can. “I believe we are going through this journey for a purpose, and I don’t want to waste any opportunity to help others who may have this experience,” she said.

For more information about Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day or the support group meetings available at King’s Daughters Medical Center, contact Cathie Whitt at (606) 408-4546.

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