Pregnancy and Infant Loss Couples Retreat Feb. 20

For three years, Elaina Judge of Williamstown has been thinking about her daughter, McKayla, who would be 3 years old on Feb. 22.

“They want me to get over it and move on, but it still hurts,” she says, remembering her daughter, who was stillborn.

Well-meaning people who have not lost a child don’t know what her grief is like, she says, and some don’t understand why her two healthy children, ages 5 and 7, don’t blot out the pain of the daughter she can’t watch grow up.

“A lot of times people don’t know what to say. They don’t mean to say things that hurt, but they do,” she says.

Judge’s grief drove her to the internet, to search for support from others who shared both her faith and her loss.

She eventually came in contact with Nathan and RyAnne Carr of Peoria, Ill., who started Immaculate Hope Ministries after the death of their first child in 2011.

The Carrs minister to grieving couples, and will be running a pregnancy and infant loss retreat on Saturday, Feb. 20, at Our Lady of Peace Parish, Williamstown. It is for any couple that has experienced any type of pregnancy or early infant loss.

Father Cadmus D. Mazzarella, pastor, will celebrate Mass for the group.

Judge said an anonymous donor sent her the funds to bring the Carrs to New Jersey.

Judge said that people who have lost children can be very angry and “consumed by grief.” The loss can also lead to marriage conflict, because partners can experience grief differently. She also said she struggles to accept McKayla’s death — and two other miscarriages — as God’s will, and she hopes that helping other struggling couples will give her losses meaning.

“Grief is love,” RyAnne Carr wrote in her blog on the Ministries of Hope website, three years after her son’s death. “The sadness, sorrow, anger, agony and despair I felt when Caleb died were all born out of intense love. To grieve him is to love him, and that is something I will do every day of my life.”

The Pregnancy and Infant Loss Couples Retreat will be held Saturday, Feb. 20, 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m., Marian Hall, Our Lady of Peace Parish. The address is 32 Carroll Ave., Williamstown. To register, email immaculatehoperetreat@gmail.com

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