On Saturday November 18, 2017, the waiting area of the Washington DC Veterans Affairs Medical Center’s Women’s Health Clinic was transformed into a place of serenity, comfort and healing. The fireplace and flameless candles created a calm warming ambiance while soft jazz music played lightly in the background. Fifteen women Veterans and their family members were there for a “Pregnancy and Infant Loss Ceremony”.
The medical center’s Maternity Care Coordination Team hosted its first Pregnancy and Infant Loss Ceremony to provide comfort and support to those who have suffered the loss of a pregnancy or an infant.
Chief of Chaplain Service Carol Ramsey-Lucas opened the ceremony and invited guests to share their stories. One Veteran named Kayla tearfully told the group “I should have a little baby right now”. One husband stood in support of his wife and shared how the loss affected him. “I know we’re supposed to be the strong ones, but I am not that strong…”.
Chaplain Cheryl Jones played the keyboard and sang “Somewhere over the Rainbow”, poems were read and emotions flowed.
According to McKisa Fryer, one of the medical center’s Maternity Care Coordinators, the remembrance ceremony was created to help fill a gap in support for women Veterans who’ve lost a child.
“Society’s response to these families is to have them grieve silently and quickly; most folks just don’t understand how devastating the loss can be. We felt it was important to reach out to Veterans who have suffered a loss and let them know that we acknowledge their grief and loss and want to help.”
Fryer explained that the staff of the Women’s Health Clinic is here to provide holistic comprehensive care—physical and emotional. The ceremony shows women Veterans who’ve experienced loss that hope and help is available. With the success of the ceremony, plans are to host one every few months.
For more information about services provided to women Veterans, please feel free to contact the Women’s Health Clinic, 202-745-8582.