Footprints on the Heart’s Candle Lighting and Remembrance event set for Saturday

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Extending “comfort and hope” to those experiencing pregnancy or infant loss, Footprints on the Heart will present its sixth annual Candle Lighting and Remembrance Event Saturday.

“Our inaugural candle lighting event was held in October 2012 in Euharlee, Georgia,” said Khristie Staines, president and cofounder of Footprints on the Heart. “That night honored 40 precious babies. Now, here we are just five short years later and the current number being honored on Saturday night is 643, with five more names not yet having been added to the list. That means that in five years ... we have been introduced in some way — in person, social media, friends, family, via phone, through funeral homes/hospitals, etc. — to 643 families who were willing to share with us the name of their precious baby.

“... Each year, just like the list of baby names [grows], so does our attendees. This year, we look forward to welcoming several new families who have suffered very recent losses, and, of course, we are always blessed to have past supporters and attendees join us again. We know that attending the first event is hard. That is one of the reasons we love to have a mixture of attendees — some early in the grief journey and others who have navigated it for many years. It is our hope that they are able to fellowship together and provide one another with comfort and hope.”

Taking place at Bethel CrossRoads Baptist Church — 450 Iron Hill Road in Taylorsville, Saturday’s event will begin with a spaghetti dinner at 5 p.m., followed by a candle lighting ceremony at 6 p.m.

“I attended my first Candle Lighting And Remembrance Event in 2011 when Khristie’s sister Michelle shared with me about Footprints on the Heart, because she had [known] I had lost my daughter, Alyssa, in my seventh month of pregnancy,” Cartersville resident Cindy Barnett said. “I have [attended] four years out of the six years Khristie has held this event. And, I encourage other parents and family members that have suffered a loss to attend one of these events, because it will help you learn about awareness of infant loss and help you learn you are not alone.

“It is a great way to get to know others and build a support team to help you learn that your feelings of loss and grief are real and that the Footprints on the Heart organization is there to help support you. It would be very beneficial if you have suffered infant loss and also for family and friends of yours to attend one of these events, because Khristie as well as all the others involved with this organization have such a passion for infant loss and help direct you in so many avenues to help bring awareness and understanding. And, this really helps when you are trying to learn how to cope with your loss. Footprints [on] the Heart also holds other events throughout the year, so go to their Facebook page and follow the events and you will come out truly blessed.”

Providing support to families for more than five, Footprints on the Heart’s purpose is multifaceted.

“Footprints on the Heart’s mission is not only to raise awareness and education for pregnancy and infant loss, which we do through our various community outreach opportunities, but to provide support to these families as well, which we do privately,” Staines said. “For each family, that support might look different. This is largely because [oftentimes] bereaved families grieve so differently. Grief is not a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all type of process. The Kubler-Ross model presents the five stages of grief as denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, and the modified model presents seven stages of grief: shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, testing and acceptance.

“However, instead of the grief journey taking on these stages in order, at times the grief journey is messy and may bounce from one stage to another. For some, the grief journey may be short and peace may be found right after loss. For others, the grief journey may last forever and be just as painful on day 5,000 as it was on day one. That doesn’t make either person wrong in their journey. It is partly because of this reason that we do not just provide support to those who just lost a baby recently, but also to the families who might have lost a baby many years ago, but did not have a support system in place that provided the ability for a family to acknowledge their loss and to grieve and grow in a healthy manner.”

For more information about Footprints on the Heart and its outreach efforts, call Staines at 770-547-4333 or visit www.facebook.com/footprintsontheheart.ga.