A ‘Walk to Remember’ those who died too soon

Published: Oct. 2, 2022 at 10:42 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - A lot of walking but also a lot of hugging this Sunday for parents that had to do the unthinkable; burying their children, but they refuse to bury their memories.

The annual event at the YMCA honors those who have experienced the death of newborns, stillborns, early infant death and miscarriages.

“We came home with not having a baby,” said Janesa Gravenstein, who lost her daughter Ryland days after birth.

Janesa’s due date finally arrived and what was suppose to be the happiest day of her life turned into the most horrific after her daughter, Ryland passed. Now, Janesa walks in memory of Ryland at Sunday’s even, a “Walk to Remember.”

“We don’t really know one-hundred percent why,” she said.

Even though the cause is unknown, Janesa says doctors believe Ryland suffered birth trauma. According to the Australian Birth Trauma Association, birth trauma is when injuries are sustained during delivery.

Janesa calls Sunday’s event a day of healing.

“We all share the same thing. We all share the same loss. We all share empty arms,” she said, “It’s important to know what is going on with you and that baby.”

However, Janesa isn’t the only mom who says the event provides some healing. Stephanie Grimm lost her son, Dylan, 10 years ago to an umbilical cord accident. Stephanie is now the co-executive director with New Haven Network, a non-profit dedicated to remembering all babies who died.

“There hasn’t been a word written in the English language or in any language that can capture the feeling of that moment,” said Grimm.

She says “Walk to Remember” symbolizes hope and community for families who feel broken or like they don’t have a place to gather in their loss.

“Through my loss I realized that there was a need for compassionate care immediately after birth and long term,” she said.

“Our society does not do a good job at acknowledging infant death,” said Melinda Hagerman who is the funeral director with Fitzgerald Funeral Home and Crematory. Hagerman has had a hand in the event for 33 years.

“This gives families a chance to not only acknowledge that they had a child that died but to honor them,” she says.