In honor of National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, a Tuscarawas County funeral home participates in the ‘Walk to Remember’ for the 20th consecutive year.
Toland-Herzig Funeral Home and Crematory of Dover and Strasburg hosted the walk the evening of Tuesday, October 17th.
Hundreds of parents, their friends & families, health professionals and others participated in this year’s walk to the nearby gazebo and gardens at Warther’s Museum where they were welcomed by special music from Scott Miller and then led in a brief ceremony and time of remembrance.
Among that crowd was Marcia Armstrong of New Philadelphia. This is her seventh year participating in the local walk and for her, it hits home.
“My husband Kyle and I were expecting our third born daughter Peyton, and she was due to arrive in March 2011. During an 18 week ultrasound, we found out there was an abnormality that required us to follow up with Maternal Fetal Medicine.” Unfortunately, she explained, the news wasn’t good.
“During the course of our check-ups with MFM, we learned of more concerns with our daughter’s vital organs, including her heart. After an amniocentesis at 25 weeks along, we learned Peyton had Trisomy 18 and she would likely pass away prior to birth or shortly after. Peyton passed away at the start of my seventh month of pregnancy and she was born still on January 7, 2011.”
Armstrong explained to Newsymom.com that a Remembrance Day is important because it allows bereaved parents an opportunity “to honor their baby and child in a spirit of support and love.”
Armstrong participated in this year’s walk alongside her husband and two daughters. She added that it “also helps to remind us that while our babies’ and children’s lives were brief in this world, their lives were so precious and meaningful. There is a saying I love, ‘There is no footprint too small that it cannot leave an imprint on this world.'” – (Anonymous).
Participants of the local walk do so at no cost and dedicate the walk to the memory of the nearly 2,000,000 babies that die worldwide each year through miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth or infant death.
Toland-Herzig’s, Tricia Herzig-McKinnon explained, “Each year we gather to remember those children – whether they were lost in pregnancy or lived to be an older adult, and no matter how long they have been gone, the loss of a child is one of life’s toughest experiences.”
“Even though Peyton was with us for a brief time, we wanted to honor her memory and be around others that had survived the loss of a baby or children to not only celebrate our love for her but who understood our deep grief,” added Armstrong.
She explained that the walk helps do just that. “The atmosphere is one of love and support and a time to be with our loved ones as we miss our babies and children and honor their brief, but meaningful lives. It reminds us that their lights truly shine on and we carry their legacies even though they are not here physically with us.”
She noted the uniqueness to the Toland-Herzig walk in that it includes a candlelight walk and gives those grieving a chance to speak their baby’s name.
Armstrong offered words of healing to those going through the process of losing a child far too soon, “When you lose a baby or child, you become part of a club that no one ever wants to join, but there was really no choice in it. You have to find your new normal and learn to adapt to this loss that shattered your heart. What becomes an element of comfort is being around or connecting to those who know your pain and have walked a journey much like yours.”
According to Toland-Herzig’s Facebook page, the first ‘Walk to Remember” was held September 26, 1986, at the National Perinatal Bereavement Conference in Chicago, Illinois.
Michaela Madison Reporting
(Photos courtesy of Marcia Armstrong/Toland-Herzig)