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remembering those who died before birth

Waipu

Some months back, I visited Waipu (Northland), and, in the Presbyterian church yard, spotted the above memorial remembering those who died before birth (detail below – people have often put a name or word on the stones behind). I think it was particularly sensitively done, around a topic that too quickly (at least on the “by human choice” aspect) degenerates into heat without much light. Certainly I pray commenters here respect the spirit in which this is offered here, echoing the way it is offered in Waipu.

I do not really want to discuss fine details of the wording – how you or I would improve on it. I think they are providing a prayerful focus I have rarely seen elsewhere. In NZ miscarriages are little spoken about; the NZ abortion discussion is quiescent, in spite of having one of the Western World’s highest rates; rare would be the (nonRC) church leader who has agility in ethical theories (beyond “the Bible says” – which it often doesn’t); good luck finding any statement from an Anglican bishop or synod.

So, in the spirit of this very good memorial, I just want to offer these images. Maybe it may inspire someone, somewhere else, to create what is appropriate in your own context. And certainly may it inspire all of us to spare a prayer, and be a little more aware of what is more common than certainly we mostly talk about.

Waipu memorial plaque

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10 Responses to remembering those who died before birth

  1. Hi Bosco. As someone who has suffered such loss I thank you for the post. May I ask where this is in Waipu? I am heading that way early in the new year and would like to stop there for a visit.

    • Thanks, Rodney. At the heart of the Waipu township there is a parking area by the museum. The church is across the car park from the museum – I don’t think you can miss it. This memorial is round the left of the church – again, I don’t think it is difficult to locate. Please take time to visit the museum; don’t miss it. It tells an absolutely amazing story, and does so in an excellent way. Advent blessings.

  2. I agree, Bosco. It is sensitively worded and designed. And a sign of hope and compassion in this Advent time. Thank you for posting this.

  3. Thank you, Bosco, for posting this. Our first child, a little boy, was stillborn 6 months into the pregnancy. The pain has diminished to an ever-present ache in our hearts. This monument, and the prayers that go with it, means more than I can say.

  4. Bosco, I lost my first and third pregnancy and the shocking treatment meant we campaigned for this issue to be properly recognised.

    This poem I wrote ( it’s been published various places ) to express the first loss:

    IF

    the crimson thing which briefly lived in me
    So long ago it seems
    Now strangest of dreams,
    And sadder-
    If it did
    Will its fair ghost haunt me forever?
    Shall I meet at every turn its cherub face
    For in the way of things I feel no place
    For it
    Or for the loss
    Of it.

    Yet I did feel it,
    Feel it now.
    But how?
    I turned away
    Some long time since
    When others said
    It’s not to be.
    I ceased my grief
    And like a thief
    Withdrew
    From what I knew.

    Did it,
    Small thing,
    Know me?

    *

    I hope women are being treated more respectfully in the UK today, for all the nonsense gets talked about early life and morality there has been a distinct lack of compassion about this issue.

    A woman was recently simply allowed to die in Ireland because of her pregnancy loss, sparking a national outcry http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-20353104

    Her family were told ‘this is a Catholic country’ when they tried to get doctors to intervene to save her life.

    *

    People don’t get it- it’s true compassion the Bible can teach, not religions. Nowhere is that more clear than the way women and young people have traditionally been treated.

    And that’s why women need the same rights, recognition and laws as men!!!

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Rev. Bosco Peters Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.