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Calgary parents mourning the loss of babies now suffering from loss of annual event

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WATCH: For many parents, the grief of losing a baby never goes away. People in Calgary who find themselves in that situation are struggling to support each other as the COVID-19 pandemic has robbed them of an important event. Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports – Aug 18, 2020

Taylor Aronovich should be preparing to send her son Gavin to his first day of kindergarten.

Instead, the Calgary woman pores through photos of little boy who never came home from the hospital after he was born.

“He was only five days old when he left,” Aronovich said.

For Aronovich, the grief is still with her.

“It will never go away. A parent losing her child, unless you have been through it, you can feel sympathy and you can feel empathy, but when it comes to that, you are not prepared for it,” Aronovich said.

Read more: Seventh annual Baby Steps Walk to Remember honours lost babies

Last September, Aronovich attended the Walk to Remember at Confederation Park in Calgary. It’s an annual event that allows parents who have lost a child a chance to connect with others who have experienced the same grief.

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“I had a shirt last year and it had Gavin on the back. This woman saw me and she said, ‘Is that your son?’ I said, ‘Yes, that’s my son.’ And we had a little talk. Two mothers. We hugged. That little embrace — I had not done that. It’s one thing to do friends and family; I had not done that with a stranger,” Aronovich said.

But this year, there will be no hugs and no walk.

Organizers of the Walk to Remember — scheduled for Sept. 12 — have cancelled the event because of COVID-19 restrictions. The walk normally draws 200 to 300 people.

“[Losing a baby is] a really taboo thing that people don’t want to talk about. It’s uncomfortable,” said Walk to Remember co-founder Filomena Eremita. Her daughter Angelina would have been 16 years old this year.

She said the decision to cancel this year’s event was devastating.

“A lot of people don’t understand unless you’ve been through it, and so without that hug and without those tears and without that connection, even just that eye to eye connection, it’s difficult to create that sense of community,” Eremita said.

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“Without being able to have a big gathering, it’s difficult to provide that to the families this year, and that is heartbreaking.”

Read more: Mother who had multiple miscarriages reflects on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day

The Walk to Remember organizers are now asking the community if there is interest in a virtual event.

“We have people from all over that come to this walk and they have a place to be comfortable and can grieve and cry and console each other and be there for each other and know exactly what you were feeling no matter if you lost a baby at eight weeks or five weeks or at the very end. It is your baby and it is a loss,” Eremita said.

While women like Aronovich understand the realities of the pandemic, she knows nothing can replace the comfort that comes with physically joining others in remembering their babies.

“It’s sad because that, for me, was one of the things that I found comforting and soothing. It has taken me time for confidence to talk to people over the years because it’s an overwhelming situation,” Aronovich said.

“We all come together and that’s a little memory. It’s a two- or three-hour thing but I have that as my special moment and I will never let anyone take that from me.”

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