Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center, in collaboration with Grace United Methodist Church, has unveiled a space in the Buckhall Community Cemetery for families who have lost babies due to miscarriage or other causes.
Marked with a headstone, the interfaith site dedicated Oct. 7 is a place for scattering fetal ashes. Families can sit and visit or reflect and grieve the loss of their children that died in utero.
Sentara estimates that one out of eight pregnancies ends in a miscarriage or loss and said the idea for the project began four years ago.
“A mother came to me and asked where she could go and grieve the loss of her stillborn baby. I found out where the ashes went, it wasn’t a place I could send families. From there, I had an idea and started talking to community leaders about my vision,” said Cindy Hardy, Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center chaplain and developer of the project.
Hardy says chaplaincy and decedent affairs will notify families of their options when choosing a disposition. Otherwise, a letter will be sent out quarterly inviting all those who have a fetal loss in that quarter to come to a formal memorial service.
Hardy said the site is inclusive. “It is open for everyone. No matter how many years have passed. Grief hurts. The space is open from dawn to dusk for reflection. The infant memorial is open to everyone. All are welcome.”
Grace United Methodist Church donated the land for the site. The project was funded by donations to the Chaplain’s Special Project Fund and through the Grace UMC’s Cemetery Fund.
The cemetery is at 10271 Moore Drive, just off the Prince William Parkway.