By Ann Marie Foley - 23 January, 2015
A Service of Remembrance is being held next week for families who have experienced the death of a child.
The Children’s Services at Cork University Hospital (CUH) and Mercy University Hospital (MUH) are holding this multi-denominational service on Wednesday 28 January at the Sacred Heart Church, Western Road, Cork.
Hospital teams have invited parents, families and children to attend the special service, the first of its kind for the Children’s Units and other services in CUH and MUH including Intensive Care Units and Emergency Departments that have cared for children who have died.
One of the organisers, Daniel Nuzum of the Chaplaincy Team told CatholicIreland.net: “We wanted to provide an opportunity for parents, and family members, to gather to remember their child who has died. We are aware that the death of a child is one of the most traumatic experiences for anybody. So we decided to have an ecumenical service of remembrance.”
He added that it is also for staff because they are also touched by the death of a child that they have known.
“It is also an opportunity for us to meet with families again and for them to meet with us. Whilst everyone’s grief is unique to themselves, we also hope parents will find support in being with other families who have experienced a bereavement like this,” he said.
The service will include singing by a male voice choir, and music from a string quartet.
Parents will be invited to bring a keepsake or memento to the altar and which they can later take home. There will be readings, prayers, music and an opportunity to light a candle in memory of the loved one.
Following the service parents are invited to join with hospital staff and other parents for light refreshments in the adjoining parish centre. There will also be entertainment and activities provided by Barretstown for the children who attend.
Staff, parents and siblings are taking part in the service while the chaplaincies are ‘hosting’ it. The chaplaincy teams are from both hospitals and from the Catholic, Church of Ireland and Methodist Churches.
Daniel Nuzum said he and the other chaplains hope that the service will touch people in a way that will help them on their grieving journey, which goes on for the rest of their lives. When parents lose a child it can affect their faith.
“For some people it absolutely rocks them to their very core, in terms of their faith. Particularly those who have had a very strong faith it can be a sense of ‘why did God allow this to happen?’” he said.
“For others their faith becomes a tremendous resource and through the mass, devotion, or prayer – whatever their personal tradition is – they find strength and a resource to help them get through.”
Families can feel anger and pain while at the same time relying on their faith.
“Our role is to help parents to know it is ok to express strong feeling and anger and from a Christian perspective those strong feelings are spread right through the psalms, for example that strong sense of injustice, lament, pain, being able to actually say really what it’s like,” said Daniel Nuzum.
He hopes the service will help do this. It might also help parents to continue with, or to connect with, the chaplaincy and hospital teams that can offer support.
The service is on Wednesday 28 January 2015 at 6.30pm in the Sacred Heart Church, Western Road, Cork (across from the AIB).