Memorial service offers comfort during holidays

By Alex Davis |

Published 12/10 2013 01:54PM

Updated 12/10 2013 02:01PM

DECATUR -- The holiday season is a time of cheer, but it can also be an emotional time for those missing a loved one. Monday, St. Mary's Hospital memorialized infants who won't be with their families this Christmas. WCIA-3's Alex Davis has more from the Share Holiday Memorial Service.

Lisa Tipsword-O'Daffer suffered through the stillbir4th of her first child. Shortly thereafter, she learned about Share.

"There's an array of emotions people have and they're all the right emotion to have."

Through Share, parents can express their feelings with others who've experienced their pain firsthand. And there are many.

"I knew I could come here and talk to people who understood. And they were not going to think it was wrong for me to want to continue to talk about my baby."

Although there are thousands of infant deaths in Illinois alone each year, society doesn't always recognize the losses. That's why Chaplin Paula Carmichael says it's important for grieving parents to reach out to find hope.

"If they don't express their pain, their feelings, it's almost impossible to heal."

The holidays can be especially painful for those missing someone dear to them.

"It's very important for people to remember and be able to celebrate the babies and infants they lost."

28-years after her son's stillbirth, Tipsword-O'Daffer is still going to Share and this memorial service is no different.

"Coming to the Share Christmas Service, I can find a way to celebrate Christmas with him. I put an ornament on the tree. It's the same ornament I've brought for 28-years and put that on the tree and that's his ornament."

She says the pain never goes away, but memorials like this one serve as comfort.

"The loss will always be there. I will always miss my son, but I can still go on with life."

The most recent data from 2009 on infant mortality in Illinois shows there were more than 1,000 that year. Champaign County had 13 infant deaths; Macon County, 14; and Sangamon County, 15.

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