May 18, 2001

Sunday VCH memorial service remembers children

Featured Image

Erin Reich, left, and Eric Dawson, right, talk with Lee Limbird, Ph.D., before they received their Ph.D. degrees in Pharmacology. (photo by Dana Johnson)

Sunday VCH memorial service remembers children

This Sunday from 3 – 5 p.m. at the University Club, the Children’s Hospital Bereavement Committee is sponsoring the fourth annual “A Time for Remembering.” The ceremony is a show of support for family and staff to help ease the loss of children who have died while being cared for at Vanderbilt.

The death of a child is never easy, for parents or for those who provide health care while the child is ill.

It’s not unusual for health care providers to become close to children and their families, forming a special bond. Often after the death, the families lose touch with the health care providers.

“Families and staff grieve in different ways,” explained Janet Cross, director of child life services. “Hopefully this ceremony provides an opportunity for staff and families to share support.”

“In this service, we remember and honor the children who have died, and we honor our own lives by taking time to do so because we all need places and events to hold at least some of the grief that we feel,” said Rev. Raye Nell Dyer, chaplain at VCH.

The ceremony started in an effort to support families after they leave the hospital.

“We have created and supported this event to help the staff show that they really do care,” explained Yvonne Bernard, chair of the bereavement committee. “And we’ve gotten nothing but positive feedback from the families.”

Staff members are encouraged to attend the ceremony, which typically has more than 600 people.

Another bridge the committee has built between families and staff is the publishing of a booklet of more than 60 stories from anonymous staff, who share thoughts on caring for the children who have died, and what those children have taught them.

One staff member wrote to the families, “I remember so many special things about so many children who are no longer living and realize that regardless of someone’s life, we all impact the world and touch special places in people’s hearts because we are all miracles in our own way.”