Do you have a son or daughter you would like to remember at a Memorial Service? Perhaps you know a relative or friend who lost a child?
Wings of Hope, the Infant and Child Bereavement program at Altru Health System, is holding the Cherished Children Memorial Service 7 p.m. Tuesday, August 13. Taking place outside in front of Altru Hospital, this event is in memory of all children who have died. Balloons will be available for decorating, and they will be released at the end of the service.
In 2000, a memory wall was dedicated to all children who have died. The wall resides in the park east of the hospital and south of the flag. Various families have chosen to have their child’s name engraved on this wall.
The wall is located near the Christmas Box Angel, dedicated in August of 2010 to all children who have died, including babies who died before or shortly after birth. The statue was introduced to the world in the book The Christmas Box, a worldwide bestseller and hit television movie by author Richard Paul Evans. In the book, a woman mourns the loss of her child at the base of an angel monument. Even though the story is fiction, the angel monument once existed in Salt Lake City cemetery.
The new angel statue was commissioned by Evans in response to reports that grieving parents were seeking out the angel as a place to grieve and heal. It was dedicated in December of 1994 in Salt Lake City. The angel statue in Grand Forks was the 11th to be dedicated. Now, there are over 100 angel statues throughout the world.
Offering Hope, Year After Year
If you look closely, you can find the word “hope” on the angel’s right wing. On December 6 every year, a candlelight ceremony is held in the lobby of Altru Hospital for all infants and young children who have died. The ceremony includes walking out to the angel, where families can place a white flower at the base. (This is explained in Richard Evan’s book.) Families are invited to place an ornament, with their child’s name on it, on a large Christmas tree in the hospital lobby.
Learn more about the Infant Bereavement Program at Altru in this blog post: Celebrating Life… and Death. For more information about the program or the August 13 Memorial Service, please call 701.780.5250.
Altru’s Infant Bereavement Coordinator, Chaplain Toni Betting has worked at Altru for 19 years. She was born and raised in Michigan, N.D. and raised her family in Ellendale, N.D. Toni enrolled in college at the University of Mary in Bismarck at the age of 50, after the last of her nine living children graduated from high school. She graduated with a major in pastoral ministries and a minor in addiction counseling. She was hired as a chaplain here in 1994 and on January 1, 2013, took the position of full time Infant Bereavement Coordinator. Toni has 28 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren. Her favorite pastimes include gardening and traveling, mostly to see her family.