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This talk was given by Carol Kostiuk as part of a presentation by the Miscarriage Awareness Committee to the ordained and lay leadership of the Diocese of Saskatoon (Fall 2011).
Miscarriage is a spontaneous loss of a fetus before the 20th week of pregnancy. Stats show that 25% of all pregnancies end with a miscarriage. This is reality. Miscarriage has implications of emotional aspects, loss and grieving factors as well as physiological implications such as hormonal imbalances within the body - think about it - depending on how far along you are when you miscarry, your body may be producing milk and the baby you so desperately wanted to love and nurture is suddenly gone.
My name is Carol Kostiuk - I am one of four Parish Nurses in the Saskatoon RC diocese. I feel part of my ministry encompasses awareness around miscarriages - both in the capacity of information and programming for the congregation as well as for the priests. Looking back on the stats, complete with the knowledge that a loss of a life is vitally important - no matter when it happens, gives us the momentum to move forward. Looking behind us at all the people who had nowhere to go in their time of loss, makes us stronger in our commitment to be supportive of the family that will be affected by a miscarriage and the emotional repercussions that will come to pass. We need to be available to not only the 25 % of the congregation which will experience this type of loss, but also just as importantly to support the priests with medical knowledge and info on available existing services. Remember - this does not only affect the parents who lost the baby - this also affects their family unit, friends and neighbors too. We as a church community need to be not only compassionate and empathetic but responsible in our outreach to help the healing of 25% of the people we see at our church gatherings. Some barriers may be simply not knowing what to say, where to refer people or what to recommend. Barriers are transformed by building bridges of knowledge, compassion and healing services to help both the grieving family - or the single teenage parent - who hasn't even found the courage to tell anyone they were even pregnant in the first place.
I feel it is important to let congregations know what options are a
Promoting prayer for grieving families in prayer circles, prayer for the babies while knitting prayer shawls or simply knowing that it is O.K. to ask a priest or PLD to say a blessing, brings healing to the reality of miscarriages.
vailable and who to talk to if they find themselves in this same situation. Bob and I did not know that an option even existed in our church community, miscarriage was simply not talked about. We dealt with it on our own, without support and with many questions about our possible future children. It would have meant so much to us, if we could have just talked to someone in our parish who had experienced a miscarriage too. I feel it is also important to encourage the priests to reach out to their parishioners by having this subject mentioned in sermons, or validated in the Book of Remembrance in November - etc. By giving voice to the idea of miscarriage ministry, people will feel more comfortable broaching the subject, or asking for a service in their time of need. A miscarriage service (and there are several available options) give a semblance of closure to this chasm of hurt and loss, which in turn helps the healing process.
Help our Miscarriage Awareness Committee be present for our Saskatoon parishioners by not shying away from the topic of miscarriages.
You are now aware and it is your responsibility to help others by making this subject comfortable, so healing can begin.