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UMHL joins global ‘Wave of Light’ to mark Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day

wave of light event
John Hunt Jnr from Newcastle West Pipe Band playing at last year’s ‘Wave of Light’ ceremony at University Maternity Hospital Limerick. Picture: Dave Gaynor

THIS Thursday evening, October 15th, University Maternity Hospital Limerick and other landmark buildings in the city will light up as part of an international ‘Wave of Light’ marking Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day.

UMHL will be bathed in blue and pink light for the event, which is run in association with Féileacáin, the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Association of Ireland, which is the national charity supporting families affected by perinatal loss.

The maternity hospital is one of a number of buildings in the region to be illuminated in blue and pink light for the occasion. Nationwide, more than 120 buildings, monuments, and landmarks will be part of the worldwide wave of blue and pink light.

The idea is to create conversations about baby loss, providing an opportunity to bereaved parents and families to talk about their precious babies. Organisers hope that individuals will also join the Wave of Light by lighting a candle for one hour on October 15th from 7pm.

Marie Hunt, Clinical Midwife Specialist, Bereavement & Loss, UMHL, said: “We are joining the Féileacáin Wave Of Light to show our support for those families bereaved through miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death, and to acknowledge their babies who have lived such short lives.”

This Thursday evening, the facade of the UMHL building as well as the front of the reception area will be illuminated in blue and pink from 7pm until 11pm.

The ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency this year prevents people from gathering in person for the Wave of Light. The UMHL bereavement team at UMHL will light a special Féileacáin candle in the reception area of the hospital in memory of all babies who have died in our community.

“We will be thinking of the parents and families who grieve, and we encourage people to light their own candle at 7pm for one hour. If you take photos and wish to post them to social media, please use the hashtag #feileacainwaveoflight2020,” Marie said.

The commemorations of Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day will be followed next month by UMHL’s annual Ceremony of Remembrance, which this year will be a virtual service streamed live from the Church of the Holy Rosary on Sunday November 22nd, at 3pm.

Although the COVID-19 public health emergency prevents the ceremony from proceeding in the traditional way, Bereavement Support and Midwifery staff at UMHL are reaching out to parents who have experienced the death of a baby or pregnancy loss at any stage, to involve them in the ceremony and ensure their precious babies are commemorated. The service will be led by Fr Des McAuliffe.

Rita O’Brien, Clinical Midwife Specialist, Bereavement and Loss, UMHL, said: “Although COVID-19 and public health restrictions mean that we cannot hold our Ceremony in the usual way, this remains an important date in our calendar, and we are grateful as ever to Fr Des and the Church of the Holy Rosary for enabling us to stream the event online.”

“The loss of a pregnancy at any stage can have devastating effects, and we want to reach out and join families together to remember and celebrate each little life,” Rita said.

Rita invited anyone in the Mid-West who has experienced the death of a baby or the loss of a pregnancy to email her with the child’s name before Monday November 16th at 5pm, so that the name will be included in the ceremony. Contact Rita by email on: rita.obrien1@hse.ie