After miscarriage, St. John's woman advocates for monument for families of lost babies

Rebecca Furlong was feeling the loss of a person she dreamed of but never got to meet.

Holy Sepulchre Cemetery has only RC monument for stillborn & miscarried babies

Rebecca Furlong stands with her father, Peter Furlong, at a new monument in memory of miscarried and stillborn children. (Ariana Kelland/CBC)

Rebecca Furlong was feeling the loss of a baby whom she dreamed of but never got to meet.

After having a miscarriage last year, Furlong wanted to properly grieve but — without remains — had no cemetery plot to visit. 

"There is a monument at the Salvation Army, but I think it's something that should be in every faith community," Furlong said.

Furlong called up Archbishop Martin Currie and lobbied for a monument for the Roman Catholic community — and he agreed.

A small ceremony was held at the Holy Sepulchre Cemetery on Topsail Road in Mount Pearl. 

The monument was erected at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in honour of miscarried and stillborn babies. (Ariana Kelland/CBC)

"It's good for us to have a place where we can come and we can reflect and mourn our children," Furlong said.

"We can lay a rock or a flower or just have a quiet moment of peace for our babies."

Until it happens to you

In her efforts to get a memorial, she called her father, Peter Furlong, a member of the Knights of Columbus, and asked if the group would like to help.

"We immediately jumped on board and we were fortunate that we were in the position that we could financially assist Rebecca and the other people who were unfortunate to have miscarried and stillborn children," Peter Furlong said.

Through working on the project, Peter Furlong learned of how many families have been affected by miscarriage and stillbirth. 

"It was a real eye-opener for me, finding out as well that many of our own council members were affected in the same way," he said.

"I guess it was something that wasn't discussed until, in fact, it happens to you."

Four-month-old Peter Furlong is Rebecca Furlong's rainbow baby. (Submitted)

In Rebecca's case, she had what's called a "rainbow baby," the year after her miscarriage. Her son, who is also named Peter, is four months old. 

The term comes from the idea of a rainbow appearing after a storm. 

Currie revealed at the ceremony that he, too, is a rainbow baby. 

Talking about the loss

For the Furlongs, the monument is also a way to start a conversation on a topic that is often shied away from. 

"I think it's because of the way this society tends to react when you tell them they have a miscarriage," Rebecca Furlong said.

"A lot of people don't consider it a loss. They don't consider it a child.… They don't consider it a baby."

Archbishop Martin Currie, who himself was a rainbow baby, stands alongside Rebecca Furlong. (Submitted )

And while it's not a big memorial, Furlong said it offers her the comfort she needed. 

"For women to be able to grieve and to know that we recognize your loss, we see your pain," she said.

"We see your grief, and this is why I wanted to get this here."

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About the Author

Ariana Kelland

Reporter

Ariana Kelland is a reporter with the CBC Newfoundland and Labrador bureau in St. John's.

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