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Remembering the ones we've lost

November 18, 2011

Every year Arnold Palmer Hospital and Winnie Palmer Hospital each hold a remembrance ceremony commemorating the children and babies who have died.

It’s a time for parents and families to come and remember their loved ones with us. The names of the children are read aloud, and the family comes forward to light a candle in their memory. We honor their memories through beautiful music and thoughtful words.

Chaplain Mark Bartel officiated the service for Arnold Palmer Hospital this year. He explains, “We assist families in celebrating their child. There is great power in hearing your child’s name spoken again and seeing their photographs shared on the screen. There is great power in gathering with other parents whose children have also died.”

The ceremony also provides an opportunity for hospital team members to come together to celebrate these children. We have walked hand-in-hand with the family on an incredible journey, and also feel the loss.

Chaplain Bartel says, “These families enriched our lives greatly. It is very helpful for us to see families return having traveled further down the road of loss and grief, doing better, able to smile and thank us for the part we played in their child’s life.”


He recalls one of his treasured memories that shows the healing power of this ceremony:

A few years ago, a mother called me and asked how long we keep photographs of newborn babies, for her baby had died shortly after birth. When I asked when her baby was born, she replied, "1970” !

I had to explain that we did not have photos from that long ago, and we had a long discussion about her loss and about how she felt her grief had not gone away, some thirty-five years later.

She and her husband came to our Remembrance Day ceremony the next fall, and she was able to walk forward as her daughter’s name was called. It was one of my favorite moments of any ceremony we've done.

For some of these families, it feels like the world has forgotten their little one. But they haven’t forgotten. It helps them to know that we haven’t forgotten them either.

If you mention my child’s name I may cry. But if you don’t mention it, you will break my heart.   -Author unknown