Infant Memorial Service

By: Nathan McKinlay
Wednesday, June 21, 2023

This past Friday, I was honoured to be a part of the annual Infant Memorial Service held at Maple Leaf Cemetery in Chatham. It occurred to me that many people may not know about the good work being done, so I thought I would write about it here. Throughout the year, the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance assists families with child loss at various stages of the pregnancy. When an unborn baby reaches the 20th week of the pregnancy, or attains the weight of 500 grams or more, they are then considered stillborn when they pass away and the stillbirth needs to be registered with the government. By law, stillborn babies must then be buried in a cemetery or cremated.

However, if these babies pass before reaching the 20th week of pregnancy or reaching the weight of 500 grams, these babies are considered ‘products of conception’, and as such, fall outside of legal requirements. What is there to do to help these grieving families?

The Chatham-Kent Health Alliance partnered with Maple Leaf Cemetery and our Funeral Home to coordinate an annual Infant Memorial Service. Once a year, we place a number of these precious babies together in an infant casket, and have them buried in the Children’s Garden at Maple Leaf Cemetery. Each year, the families of these babies are invited to attend and share in their collective loss.  

For many years, the burial took place a day or two before the actual service. The families could attend the Memorial service, but there was no casket present. However, in the years following the pandemic, we brought in a new partner: Bridget Murphy, Spiritual Care Coordinator at the Chatham-Kent Hospice. Bridget’s dedication to the grieving families, her courage and her outside the box thinking, allowed for us - over the course of a few zoom meetings - to coordinate a truly special memorial service for those grieving parents and their families.  At the conclusion of the service, we invited families to step forward and place their hand on the casket as a final farewell. Families were also invited to stay while the casket was placed in the grave and were invited to place a flower, or a handful of earth into the grave.

It was truly a special day and I commend the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, Maple Leaf Cemetery, and the Chatham-Kent Hospice for their participation in such a meaningful and instrumental service.

“Show me the manner in which a nation cares for its dead and I will measure with mathematical exactness the tender mercies of its people, their respect for the laws of the land, and their loyalty to high ideals.” – Sir Walt Ewart Gladstone

Leave a comment
Please enter the numbers and letters you see in the image. Note that the case of the letters entered matters.


Please wait

Previous Posts


How do we cope with the loss of a pet? As Funeral Directors, we are often asked to give presentations to students and volunteer organizations about many topics, most of them connected to death and...

The Reach of a Small Town

The Reach of a Small town It amazes me how connected we all are throughout this beautiful country of ours. Families take root in one community and then branch off to other towns, cities, provinces...


Our position as a Funeral Director is nothing short of a privilege. Just as it is a privilege to have a driver’s licence, to vote in a provincial election, it is a privilege to care for families du...

Symbolism in the Wild

A butterfly flutters on by, a hummingbird stops to take a drink of water from a nearby feeder, a cardinal sits upon a snowy wintergreen overlooking the neighbourhood. The moment you see one, it bri...

Photo Reconstruction

It is not unusual for a family to bring a photo of their loved one, where their loved one looks great, but everything else seems to be getting in the way. Either a person has an arm around them, th...

How can my family and friends participate in my service?

How can my family and friends participate in my service? When planning a funeral event, there are various ways family and friends can participate. Here are a handful of ways. Eulogy – For those w...

What is a Companion Urn?

What is a companion urn? In recent years we have had more and more families asking about companion urns. A companion urn is an urn which is large enough to contain two separate sets of cremated re...

Do you have a will?

Do you have a will? This is a question that we ask at least one person every day. The answer we like to get is ‘yes’, however, we get a lot more ‘no’s than you’d think. Having an updated will ensu...

Acts of Kindness Around Christmas

There is never a good time of year to lose someone. It can be especially difficult around the holidays. Compound that stress with a savage winter storm and you are pushing people to their limit. Ho...

Christmas Season After A Loss

Christmas Season after a Loss It’s here again, the most wonderful time of the year!  Except maybe for some people out there, it’s not. For those that have lost a loved one this year this will...