HEALing After the Loss of a Child
For nearly nine months, Crystal and Kevin Aldridge experienced the perfect pregnancy. But that all changed during a routine check-up when doctors could not detect baby Kelis’ heartbeat. Crystal had noticed that the baby’s activity had slowed down quite a bit, but she thought that was natural as the baby grew.
As doctors frantically searched for the baby’s heartbeat, Crystal said, “We knew Kelis had passed on.” She was choked by her umbilical cord. In an instant, the Aldridges’ lives were shattered. Even when doctors induced labor the following day and Kelis was born, “Everyone in the delivery room was still listening for that cry,” said Crystal.
The loss of their daughter was difficult, painful, and at times, impossible to accept. Prayer and support from friends and family helped tremendously. But the Aldridges said that, without the help of Atrium’s HEAL Program (Help Endure A Loss), they doubt they could have survived the most tragic moments of their lives.
Death of a Child Changes Everything
HEAL specializes in perinatal loss, providing support for both parents and their families after the loss of a pregnancy or the death of a baby. The program’s professionally trained staff stands ready to assist all families in need, at no cost. “But not everyone is open to our help so soon after the loss of a child,” said Sheree Young, HEAL Coordinator.
“I was angry and resistant at first,” Kevin said of accepting HEAL’s assistance. “But they left the door open for me to walk through, and I’m glad they did.” Kevin and Crystal appreciated how patient and helpful HEAL representatives were in anticipating the full scope of their needs. “They were always there to help me through whatever I was feeling—day or night,” Crystal said. “Even today, I can call them and know someone who understands what I’m going through will be there to listen.”
Sheree, who established the program in 1999, knows about loss. A former Neonatal Nurse, she had a son of her own who was stillborn. Shortly afterward, she began counseling others who had experienced the loss of a child. “It never gets easier,” said Sheree, referring to the grieving process. “People who have never experienced the loss find it very difficult to understand that they can only ‘walk with you, not for you.’”
Celebrating Kelis’ Life
HEAL team members encouraged the Aldriges not to focus on Kelis’ death, but instead celebrate her life. After Crystal gave birth, HEAL representatives persuaded the couple to hold and cradle their child, cherishing this special time with her. “At first I was very resistant to the idea of holding my deceased baby,” said Kevin, a Middletown pastor. “But I did, and it brought me immediate healing.”
HEAL provided the Aldridges with DVDs, the baby’s footprints, and photographs—all of which helped create happy memories. The couple feels God used HEAL to help them realize that Kelis did have a life. They are grateful for all the support and comfort they received from their church, the community, and especially the HEAL program.