2022 Loss Walk , By Aidan Cobb Bereavement Doula, Loss Walk Committee Chair and Community Roots Volunteer
The sun had begun to fall behind the steel minarets atop Plant Hall, allowing for an almost fall-like October breeze to set in along the Hillsborough River. Volunteers with tots in tow arrived one by one as tables and signs were erected, and the event came together. What was a park a short time ago had been transformed for a moment. Welcome banners led the way, and little by little, slowly, moms, dads, and birthing persons alike made their way into the heart of Plant Park. Smiles, tears, and hugs greeted friendly faces. Each attendee, as unique and diverse as the next, shared one common theme, Pregnancy and Infant Loss (PAIL).
“Today would have been my due date; I had no idea it was also PAIL awareness day… Thank you for being here,” one participant remarked as she checked in for registration.
For the last five years, Community Roots has strived to provide a safe and welcoming space for parents and caregivers to learn and grow with their little ones while finding their tribe. We hope to support families through every situation, even the tough, less talked about ones, such as Pregnancy and Infant Loss. The Community Roots 5th Annual Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Walk was started by the Root’s founder and Midwife, Charlie Rae Young !! Charlie Started this day of remembrance when she experienced the same heart-wrenching fate that so many other parents have faced. Charlie lost BRT in 2016. Facing depression and anxiety, Charlie knew she had to show up for the loss community the way she always had for everything she felt passionate about. Charlie knew that she owed herself, her partner, BRT, and her community to dedicate a day to remembering what was lost but never forgotten. Our annual loss walk helps families honor the babies that have passed on before us and close scars that have been ripped open.
Over the years, the walk has grown and blossomed along with us into a beautiful yet bittersweet event for families and parents to come to honor their loved ones. This year’s walk was no different as we grew into the beautiful and peaceful Plant Park on the University of Tampa Campus. Plant Park afforded a beautiful view and sprawling grounds for participants to spread out and take part in some of the many crafts, activities, and other offerings in attendance. The memorial walk would take participants from Plant Park across the Hillsborough River into downtown and up along the beautiful Riverwalk to complete a full mile. This walking route was specially curated to bring awareness to this sensitive topic that has touched many but we do not speak about. Pregnancy and infant loss affects 1 IN 4 WOMEN!! Yet so many parents suffer with this, in solitude. The community Roots not only strives to bring awareness to this issue through our yearly walk but to provide a space where we can come and join in the community and honor these souls that were lost before we had a chance to live our lives with them. This is a time of remembrance, a time to grieve, a time to cry, a time to honor, and even a time for closure.
We could not have thrown this event without the help of community partners such as Trader Joe’s, Sprouts, and other local retailers that provided healthy snacks and water for attendees. Fit 4 Mom set up a banner-making table where families could craft a special banner for their loved ones and highlight it as we walked through the streets of downtown Tampa. The magnificent Reilly McGuire Photography was on the scene this year again to capture all of the love this day had to share. Reily had a superb eye and captured the essence of this event, and we are so grateful for the donation of time and resources to capture these moments for us and so many families. Lauren, our gracious emcee for the day, introducing poetry read by loss parents and informing participants of walk details was perfection, and we couldn’t have asked for more. Sunde’s sweet serenades lingered through the trees as families made their way down to the riverside at sunset to release flowers as a tribute to their sweet babes and close out the evening. We watched families embrace each other as they mourned, cried, and laughed at the memories they were now creating. They were re-writing their story and changing the narrative from death to light and honor at that moment. Families would go on release flowers into the Hillsborough River. For some, it was a way of saying goodbye, and for others, it would be a way of saying hello either way, the love that was felt that evening was radiating through the park as the glow of pink and blue set upon us from the lights that donned the city.
Parenting can be lonely. Learning to parent after a loss can be even lonelier. Join us for our Full Cycle Loss support group on the first Monday of every month from 7 to 9 PM at Community Roots Collective in Tampa. Contact our Full Cycle Loss support Facebook page 24/7 to schedule 1:1 time with a bereavement Doula, or come down to Community Roots during any of our events to introduce yourself and find a tribe of women, men, and others ready to love, support and guide you.
Community Roots would like to extend a massive thank you to all of our sponsors, and amazing volunteers, without whom all we do would be impossible. We also would like to thank our parents, families, and support people in attendance.
For immediate help following a loss please call Aidan at 727–2 81–1656. For all medical emergencies please call 911 or proceed to your nearest emergency room. While Our doulas do not provide medical advice or assistance, they can hold space for you and advocate for you with your provider at a hospital, at home or wherever you may need their assistance.
For more information on our Bereavement Doulas and services please see our blog titled “Still Birthday; Saying hello and the hardest goodbye “
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