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Vigil helps families grieve for losses

December 01, 1999

Labor of LoveBy KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI / Staff Writer

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer




When Wendy Hite lost her 6-week-old daughter to sudden infant death syndrome she felt she wanted to die too.

Her grief was intense and there were no support groups in the area for her to lean on, she said.

It was her faith that pulled her through.

"God is good. He helped me and made me strong," said Hite of Fairplay.

Reaching out to others in the same situation, in 1983 Hite helped form Labor of Love, a support group for families who have lost a child by miscarriage, stillbirth or as a newborn.

About 65 people attended a candlelight vigil held by the group to remember children who have died with prayers, poems and song at the Washington County Hospital on East Antietam Street, Wednesday evening.

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The ceremony was led by Debra Avery, a hospital chaplain intern, who said, like a snowflake every child is unique and beautiful.

She described grief as a "desolate land."

"We do have to grieve and it does hurt. But we don't have to go there alone and we can come back," she said.

Hite offered comfort to the families by describing what it was like for her to be with her grandfather when he died.

At the moment of his death, his face relaxed and his eyes, which had been foggy became clear, she said.

"Death doesn't hurt. There was no pain or cringing. There was nothing except absolute beauty," she said.

Groups like Labor of Love are important because they give those grieving continued support, said Hite.

"Once the funeral is over eventually people stop coming around as much. Sometimes people are still hurting and need someone to talk to," said Hite.

"We allow people to talk and cry. They can share how they feel with someone who understands," she said.

Shawen and Denny Warrenfeltz of Boonsboro attended the candlelight vigil to remember the seven children they lost.

As the result of medical problems, Shawen lost two sets of twins and had three miscarriages, she said.

Being a part of the support group has helped her family deal with such extreme grief, she said.

Her sense of loss is just as great for her miscarried children as for her twins, she said.

"It's still a loss. It doesn't matter if you carried the child for four weeks or 4 months," said Warrenfeltz.

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