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    Walking to celebrate life



    Story by Debra Thompson 

    General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital

    For the first time families on Fort Leonard Wood gathered together to express grief and celebrate life.

    Army Capt. Cherise Blair, Maternal Child Unit officer in charge at General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital, organized a bereavement walk to provide families a safe place to gather and support each other.

    “Most people are uncomfortable with the topic, so they don’t talk about it. However, those families want to talk about their infant. They want to celebrate their child, and mourn their loss in a safe place,” she said.

    Blair remembers her first time caring for an infant who passed away while she was as a new nurse in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

    “The first time that I cared for an infant that passed away, it was a significant life event for me. I was truly devastated, and it was difficult to be a part of. Those experiences are what makes us who we are. I know that I’m a more compassionate nurse because of that experience.”

    While Blair was stationed at Fort Irwin, California, one of her Bereavement Care mentors developed the Bereavement Walk for the families there. Blair continued the walk after her mentor left and brought the idea to Fort Leonard Wood.

    “I truly believe the opportunity for families to gather, celebrate and remember their infants is therapeutic,” she said.

    Former president Ronald Reagan dedicated October as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, and created the Wave of Light initiative on Oct. 15th. The idea is that if everyone lights a candle for their loved one at 7 p.m., there will be a wave of light created across the world as a symbol of love and support.

    “GLWACH and the Religious Support Office were instrumental in helping to make this event a success. The intent is for this event to become something families can look forward to each year and we can come together as a community to support and grow stronger together,” said Blair.

    Families gathered at Gerlach track, lit a candle and walked as long as they wanted to. Once they were ready, they blew out their candles and joined other families to share stories and offer support to each other.



    Date Taken: 11.12.2018
    Date Posted: 12.18.2018 14:41
    Story ID: 304094
    Location: MO, US

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