Service for those who have lost a child

The importance of remembering: Lucas Mara, wife Gillian and son, Samuel, 9, at last year's service at Woronora Memorial Park.
The importance of remembering: Lucas Mara, wife Gillian and son, Samuel, 9, at last year's service at Woronora Memorial Park.

Woronora Memorial Park will mark International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day on Sunday, October 15 with a candlelit service commencing 6:30pm.

"We need to keep living and open ourselves up to more connections.

Lucas Mara

The day serves to promote awareness of services and support available to those who have suffered the loss of a child or loss while pregnant or still born.

Woronora Memorial Park has been commemorating this special day since it was officially recognised by NSW parliament in 2012, with more than 700 attending each year.

Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust (NSW) chief executive officer Graham Boyd said that for families who have suffered the unimaginable loss of a child, the ceremony is a chance for grief to be shared and a burden unloaded in a reflective and healing atmosphere.

“Families meet neighbours of our community and find a lot of support from each other. They also gain enormous value from the support structure provided by the support groups in attendance,” Mr Boyd said.

This year, the keynote speaker will be Lucas Mara, a Loftus resident, who will be speaking on infant loss from the male perspective.  

Lucas and his wife Gillian were completely unprepared for the loss of their three year old son Aidan from an unexpected illness. They have two others sons, Samuel, 9, and Patrick, 2.

“We lost our son Aidan about three years ago. He was in hospital being treated for pneumonia and just collapsed.

“In life in general I take the opportunity to remember Aidan. While I feel sad I also feel closer to him.

“It’s important to let others know how you feel. I talk to a lot of parents who have lost a child; mothers and and particularly fathers who shy away from talking about their feelings.

“When we lost Aidan a lot of people helped us. This is my opportunity to help others and hopefully let people know they can still be okay and hopefully find strength.

“When Aidan passed away my biggest fear was that we would forget about him. But it’s exactly the opposite and I mean that in a good way.

“Some people go through trauma and they want to forget about it.

“If you lose something and it is painful then it shows how valuable it was to you. It makes you value the relationships around you now.

“We need to keep living and open ourselves up to more connections. Life in general is about connection.”

The Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day Service will be held at the Karinya Garden, the children’s area within the memorial park commencing at 6.30pm. 

Representatives from supporting organisations including SANDS, Stillbirth Foundation Australia, Red Nose (formerly SIDS and Kids), Bears for Hope, and HeartKids will attend.

The service will include a Wave of Light Candlelight ceremony at 7pm where each attendee receives a symbolic gift of a white candle to join thousands of others from around the globe in a moving tribute.

Literally hundreds of candles are lit at the same time, forming a light which travels around the world in sequence, following the sunset of the world.

Everyone is invited to attend the ceremony.