Michelle and Jason Widmeyer will light a candle for their little babe in heaven at the Memorial Liturgy for those mourning the loss of a child through miscarriage or stillbirth, Friday, November 20, 7 pm at Sacred Heart Parish in Calgary.
“I am looking forward to honouring our little one who has passed and gone to heaven and also gathering with others who’ve gone through the same thing,” said Michelle.
The Widmeyers attend St. Joseph Parish in Calgary with their four children ages 5 through 11. They were excited to welcome their fifth child into their fold, until the couple received the difficult news that their baby did not have a heartbeat during an early-stage ultrasound scan this fall.
“Through this experience I’ve really grown in my own faith,” said Michelle. “I’ve realized there is such grace in suffering. Even in the sorrow and the mourning there’s such great consolation from our loving God that He doesn’t leave us empty handed.
“There is the promise of eternal life and knowing He created this soul for Him out of love. Even if we can’t embrace this little one physically and raise them, we have a little one who’s gone before us and can pray for us in heaven.”
The Widmeyers named their child Marion meaning ‘well-wished for child’. In late August, they made a pilgrimage to Our Lady of the Rockies Shrine in Canmore after learning Michelle was pregnant.
“At this time we felt called to consecrate the little baby in my womb to Our Lady,” said Michelle.
As their joy turned to grief, they leaned on trusted friends, their midwife and family doctor for support. They also spoke with Fr. Adrian Martens at Ascension Parish –– nearest church to their house in NW Calgary. He provided comfort, empathy, information and prayer.
“He was wonderfully sympathetic and just gave a listening ear,” said Michelle.
Fr. Martens explained how the Church could support the couple during this time by offering a memorial service or funeral Mass and giving directives for burial if desired.
He encourages anyone who has suffered through a miscarriage or stillbirth (recently or decades ago) to speak with a priest in the Calgary Diocese. They can offer spiritual direction to help families heal.
“We’ll be here for you and support your family’s needs. Do not think you are taking up our time. This is important. In loving these little ones we are loving the face of Christ,” said Fr. Martens.
One way diocesan clergy minister to the bereaved is through the fifth annual Memorial Liturgy for those mourning the loss of a child through miscarriage or stillbirth. This year Bishop William McGrattan will preside over the service which draws people from all walks of life and stages of grief.
As the Widmeyers continue to work through their grief, it is these tangible signs of love and outreach, from their family of faith, that bring them comfort and hope.
“Even just the promise that people are praying for us feels like a big hug from God; that we are going to get through this and we will be okay; that there is joy in the midst of suffering through the loving actions of others.”
Written by Sara Francis for Faithfully
Catholic Pastoral Centre Staff and Guest Writers