A butterfly prepares to take flight during the special pediatric and perinatal remembrance ceremony at Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, Oct. 21, 2022. The ceremony was held to honor and support families who lost an infant or child over the past year. (DoD photo by Garron Webster)

Brooke Army Medical Center held a special pediatric and perinatal remembrance ceremony Oct. 21 to honor and support families who lost an infant or child over the past year.

“For many that are gathered here today it’s only been days, weeks or months since we experienced the loss of a precious child,” said U.S. Army Chaplain (Capt.) Kody Witt. “With this loss we have also experienced the grief that surrounds the unmet hopes, the loss of our new identity as mother, father or maybe grandparent, and the loss of the expected joyful memories that we excitedly anticipated that never came to fruition.

“No ceremony is needed to remember what we will never forget,” the chaplain added. “But rather to know that we are not alone in our grief. While each story is different, we all journey together these difficult roads of healing.”

Witt thanked the staff for their support of those who lost their child.

“Your love and care in these moments leaves an eternal impression on the lives of others in ways that I suspect will never fully be realized to you,” Witt said.

The ceremony was filled with prayers, poems and reflection. U.S. Army Col. Kimberlie Biever, former BAMC deputy commanding officer, also spoke at the event reflecting on her own experiences.

“I’m a mom who is deeply hurt for three losses that I have had over the years,” Biever said tearfully.

She shared her own insights saying when she had her miscarriages it wasn’t something that was talked about.

“The time was very numbing, very painful and very lonely,” she said. “I often felt like I was on a roller coaster with extreme ups each time I found out I was pregnant and extreme downs each time I had miscarried.

“Please know that it’s okay to grieve,” Biever told those in attendance. “Please know that no matter how far along you are in your pregnancy or how old your child was at the time of their passing, you need to take time to grieve. It’s a process that takes time and is different for everyone.”

Biever reminded the families that there are people who want to provide support. She also shared some insights on what helped her through the grieving process such as journaling, reading books, accessing community resources, and talking to others who have experienced a loss.

“My hope for you today as we take time to remember those little lives is that this ceremony brings you the connection, the healing, the love, and the newfound strength you need as you continue to move forward,” Biever concluded.

Amy Beyer, social worker, read the names of the infants and children lost over the past year as U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Michael Simmons rang bells in their remembrance. Following the reading of the names, Chaplain Witt and his wife Kathleen sang a lullaby as the families released butterflies, cried, hugged and reflected as their butterflies took flight.

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