I was stricken with horror as Ashley explained to me the logistics of preserving our little girl’s remains for burial, if we could retrieve them. The day before, we thought we were having a healthy baby, and the next day we needed to research how to handle cremation or burial of a miscarried child. We were blindsided. Who expects this?
As Ashley endured the physical terrors of the miscarriage, I started doing blind Google searches to figure out what we could do. There was some information scattered around, but it was far from apparent how to proceed or what to do once the miscarriage itself came to an end. I felt more or less helpless to assist my wife and prepare to ease the burden that we would experience in physically handling our Bernadette’s remains for burial.
Although we were not able to retrieve our daughter’s remains and experience the next phase ourselves, so many have and will drink that cup. The Diocese of Colorado Springs Policy for Burial of Fetal Remains equips us with the following: “All human life is sacred. Fetal remains (i.e., miscarriages, stillborns, etc.) should be given a proper, dignified and reverent burial.”
The diocesan website now contains a link to information on miscarriage and infant loss support resources (found under “Pastoral Services” and then “Respect Life Apostolate”). This includes information about the internment of our miscarried children. We will continue to update this information in the coming months. In the interim, the following information may be of help to those of us who are managing the loss of a preborn child.
In the State of Colorado, families have the right to the remains of their preborn children when the tragedy of miscarriage or infant death occurs. For miscarriages that occur at a hospital prior to 24 weeks, a family can pursue one of two options: hospital disposition (cremation and internment) or ask for the remains to be released directly to the family or a funeral home. There are some situations in which the child’s remains cannot be released directly to the family for health and safety reasons, but can be released to a funeral home instead.
If a family is interested in hospital disposition, it is best to discuss options ahead of time with the medical facility they are receiving care from. If a family chooses to have their child’s remains released directly to them or a funeral home, there are a variety of options for funeral homes, columbaria and cemeteries in our diocese. The following are not the only options, but rather are the ones that offer services especially for families experiencing miscarriage and infant loss.
Mount St. Francis Columbarium is located at 7665 Assisi Heights, Colorado Springs, and offers a Holy Innocents niche for the ashes of preborn children at no charge to families. The outside of the niche is engraved “Holy Innocents.”
Please contact them at 719- 955-3810 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saint Mary’s Cathedral Columbarium is located at 22 West Kiowa, Colorado Springs. While they do not have a section specifically for the remains of preborn children, they have many niches available for families to purchase, for the cremated remains of any loved one, preborn child through adulthood. Please contact them at 719-473-4633, ext. 104.
Dignity Memorial owns multiple funeral homes and cemeteries within the Diocese of Colorado Springs. While they are not a Catholic organization, Memorial Gardens Funeral, Cremation & Cemetery offers a Catholic section for burial.
They will also accept, prepare and bury remains of preborn children at no cost to families. These children are buried in the Garden of Angels portion of the cemetery with a temporary grave marker. Families may purchase a permanent headstone if they desire. Please contact Lisa Carter or Kailah Rose-Metzbower at 719-390-4906 for assistance. They may also be contacted by email at lisa.carter@DignityMemorial.com and kailah.rose@DignityMemorial.com.
For the faithful who live outside of the Colorado Springs area, we have the following cemeteries available:
• Queen of Heaven Catholic Cemetery is located at 34201 Country Road 33, Kiowa, 80117, on the 60-acre campus of Our Lady of the Visitation Parish. They offer a special section called Holy Innocents Hill for the respectful burial of fetal remains due to pregnancy loss. Holy Innocents Hill has unmarked, individual graves available at no cost to families. Families also have the option of purchasing a plot if that is their desire. Contact Father Michael Holmquist at 303-646-4964.
• Calvary Catholic Cemetery is owned and operated by the St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Stratton. They offer an unmarked section of the cemetery with unmarked graves for the burial of preborn children, at no cost to families. They can be contacted at 719-348-5336.
• Catholic Funeral and Cemetery Services (CFCS) of Northern Colorado includes Mt. Olivet Catholic Cemetery, St. Simeon Catholic Cemetery and the Archdiocese of Denver Mortuary.
Mt. Olivet Cemetery is located at 12801 W. 44th Ave., Wheat Ridge, 80033 and offers the Precious Lives Burial ministry. On their website they state, “Catholic Funeral and Cemetery Services of Northern Colorado would like to take this precious life into our care for placement in Mt. Olivet Catholic Cemetery at no cost . . . No matter if families are Catholic, Protestant, another faith tradition or of no faith, we serve all families and want to serve you and yours.” They also offer monthly memorial Masses. Please contact Mt. Olivet Cemetery at 303-502-9666.
Burying the dead is one of the Church’s chief corporal works of mercy. It is our duty as disciples to carry this out. It’s not always possible to retrieve remains. Even when we try to do so there are many reasons why it may not be feasible. But we know, as the people of life, that our preborn loved ones are fully human from the moment they are conceived. If we do have bodily remains to care for, a duty to do so with true Christian charity presents itself.
Sometimes the enemy whispers to us in our grief, fear, and shock, that we don’t have the duty to render a Christian burial for these little ones when we have the ability to do so. Let us shut him out! Let us do even the most painful duties and pour ourselves out for Christ and for our little ones. Christ loves his children. Let us bring them forth to him.
For additional help and support during or after a miscarriage or infant loss please visit the new Diocesan Miscarriage Support Ministry web page at https://www.diocs.org/Pastoral-Services/Respect-Life/Miscarriage-Support-Ministry.
(Correction to the previous article in this series: St. Dominic Parish does not have miscarriage collection kits available at this time. If a family is in need of a miscarriage collection kit or delivery aid, for the time being they may be purchased through heavensgain.org or elizabethministry.org until the Respect Life Apostolate is able to make these kits available to families locally.)
(Ashley and Bill Slack are members of St. Benedict Parish in Falcon.