sharing your stories and remembering your children
By: Stephanie Gordon, EPLA board member and blog editor
Last fall, the Hillsdale College for Life group and the chaplain’s office hosted an event called Rachel Weeping, which was a prayer service of healing for the loss of infant life. The event took place in November at the college’s Christ Chapel. The evening was filled with scripture and prayer to remember those who died in the womb and in infancy.
Reverend Adam Rick, Hillsdale College chaplain, led the service, along with some student volunteers.
“The background for Rachel Weeping is a service my church in New England put together many years ago to offer a tangible way to grieve within the arms of Christian community and worship for mothers and families who had lost infant children in the womb or shortly after,” Rick said. “It has been offered by this congregation every year since it was first devised. It basically represents a slightly modified funeral liturgy with elements common to various Christian traditions. It was thought this was especially important for women who lost children in the womb because our culture doesn’t generally offer any kind of ceremony to mark this kind of trauma.”
Rick led the service, with the help of student volunteers.
“A key part of the service is the writing of a letter to the child in which, as the Spirit leads, they call the child by name and commend them to God. The letters are placed on the altar in exchange for a white rose, and afterwards they are destroyed by the officiating clergyman (burned and ashes buried).”
Rick said the service was originally proposed by the Hillsdale College for Life group. The service included several members of the club, plus musicians from InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and prayer teams from both IV and Equip Ministries.
Local pastors, both Protestant and Roman Catholic, were present to offer pastoral counseling.
“We reached out to local churches and pregnancy resource centers so this service can be a ministry of the college to the outside community as well as to our own,” Rick said.
Hillsdale College for Life hopes to make Rachel Weeping an annual event.
Kathryn Wales, a Hillsdale local, and mother who’s experienced loss, said she was grateful for the chance to write her daughter a letter.
“I had talked to her and prayed with her for years,” said Wales. “But, the prompt to express and submit articulated thoughts and feelings was an important part of my grieving process. I recommend it to any parent who has experienced loss.”