Memorial to support grieving families

October 26, 2021 BY

Jo Lewis (St John of God), Kate Cohen (Barwon Health), Michelle Harding (Barwon Health); Frank de Groot (Geelong Cemeteries Trust), and Pam Virgona (Hope Bereavement Care) attended the opening of Geelong's first Pregnancy & Infant Loss Memorial Garden. Photo: GEELONG CEMETERIES TRUST

GEELONG’s first Pregnancy And Infant Loss Memorial Garden has opened at Geelong Memorial Park this month, to help local families through their grieving process.

The garden has been established by Geelong Cemeteries Trust and is the final milestone in a Pregnancy Loss Program, which has been developed over the last five years and provides a free service to families unable to make formal funeral arrangements.

St John of God Hospital, Barwon Health Maternity Unit and Hope Bereavement approached the trust in 2016 to assist families who had suffered the loss of a baby under 20 weeks gestation.

At the time, if a family was unable to make funeral arrangements due to financial or mental burden, they had had no option of retrieving or memorialising their baby’s remains in the future.

The four organisations initiated the Pregnancy Loss Program to give families the option to have their baby cremated at Geelong Memorial Park and Crematorium, then placed in a memorial garden at Geelong Memorial Park, at no cost.

Geelong Cemeteries Trust CEO Darryl Thomas said the program was the result of extensive efforts from all involved parties to make a change to current practices to provide a fitting memorial for unregistered births.

“In our experience, many families contact the trust, sometimes years after, asking if we know what happened to their baby’s remains,” he said.

“Being able to inform them that their ashes have been placed in this garden means they have a place to visit and reflect.

“We know that a memorial such as this greatly assists these families with their grieving.”

Barwon Health clinical midwife Kate Cohen said families had expressed relief and appreciation knowing that their baby has been cared for in a respectful and dignified way.

“The designated garden will be a beautiful place for women and their families to remember and acknowledge their baby, no matter their gestation.”

The garden was officially opened by the Trust last Friday on Pregnancy And Infant Loss Remembrance Day.

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