Grieving family members find solace in memorial Mass

MURRELLS INLET—On a hot, bright Saturday morning along the Grand Strand, men and women came together to pray and worship in honor of the sons and daughters they have lost.

About 100 people turned out at St. Michael Church on Sept. 8 for a memorial Mass in honor of children who have died. The event coincided with the National Day of Remembrance, a national pro-life event dedicated to the memory of children lost to abortion.

Father David Nerbun celebrated Mass, and he reminded the congregation that it was a chance to grieve, yet hopefully find some solace in the Eucharist.

During his homily, he reflected on the fact that the memorial coincided with the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Mother. He said grief was a very real presence in the lives of Mary’s parents, Joachim and Anne, and especially in the life of Mary herself, who witnessed the crucifixion of her son, Jesus.

“She traveled with her son to Calvary, and standing at the foot of the cross, her grief was very raw,” Father Nerbun said. “However, her pain and grief would be transformed by the resurrection.”

He encouraged those who have lost a child to embrace and acknowledge their grief, and to fill the emptiness in their lives with good and positive influences and experiences.

“Fill the hole left in your lives with prayer, with good friends, with good works and with prayer,” he said. “Have faith and grow with trust and hope in the resurrection.”

After the liturgy, people filed out of the church and gathered around the parish monument dedicated to unborn children.

Deacon Bob Davis read a litany of prayers dedicated to stopping abortion. Organizer Barbara Umpleby placed a memorial wreath in front of the stone, and then participants were invited to place flowers at the monument. Many paused and said a brief prayer after placing their flower.

Umpleby organized the first Day of Remembrance event at St. Michael about five years ago, and said it has become a bigger event each year. She said the day was an important chance for everyone who has lost a child to acknowledge their grief, ranging from women who have had abortions to those who lost a child to illness, an accident, or suicide.

“Grief is normal and everyone experiences it differently,” she said. “I have had experience with many different kinds of grief in my life, and I wanted to be able to help others deal with theirs.”

Sandy Berry, a member of St. Michael Church, attended the event in honor of one of her daughters, who died of kidney failure five years ago.

“I don’t know what people do who are grieving but don’t have faith,” she said. “The Mass and the Eucharist are absolutely my salvation.”

Photo, Miscellany/Christina Lee Knauss: People place flowers at a monument dedicated to unborn children outside St. Michael Church in Murrells Inlet after a memorial ceremony Sept. 8 to honor children who have died.