BENNINGTON -- All are welcome to a bereavement Mass for parents who have lost a child which will be held on Tuesday, March 25, at 5:30 p.m. at Sacred Heart St. Francis de Sales Church.

This special Mass is being offered for all parents who grieve the loss of a child, whether before birth, as an infant, during childhood, or as an adult.

A press release for the event notes that "in our society, death and sorrow are often hidden behind closed doors. There is a lack of understanding about the nature of grief and the mourning that must take place for a healthy resolution of loss. The depth of your grief may not be understood by others, especially if the loss of your child happened many years ago.

"Also if you have other children, reminders of the child you have lost can make it difficult to tend to your grief," the release adds. "An outward demonstration of your love for the one who is no longer with you can help you to acknowledge your child and your grief as we ask God to be present to us in our loss."

Those attending the bereavement Mass will have an opportunity to inscribe their child’s name in a book of remembrance that will be brought up to the altar for this Mass. The book will be prominently displayed in the Bishop Brady Center Chapel and all will be remembered in Mass daily.

"In the celebration of the death and resurrectioån of Christ, we are reminded of the joys of eternal life which we hope one day to share with all our beloved children," the release states.

According to a blog post by Margaret Wehrung, for Holy Cross Family Ministries, "When we consider children dying, we may think it’s a loss like any other loss. In time everyone ‘gets over it.’ It’s always puzzled me, and granted, I’ve done it myself, how we ask parents at the time of a child’s death if they have other children, as if grief is lessened if they still have living children."

Another painful question, though normally a natural thing to ask, is "how many children do you have?"

"Perhaps the parents pause and stumble over this question. Shall they say, "Three, but one is deceased?" Or "two," to make it easier on everyone else, but at the same time feel an inner sense of betrayal of their other child? We must also understand that whether the child died at birth or at 15, this child always counts and the grief never really goes awayĆ it just becomes private, not even shared with spouse or children.

"Every anniversary of death, every birthday, every milestone left unattained is a poignant and somewhat bitter awareness of their pain and loss," Wehrung writes. "So, as time goes by, never believe a child is gone. Parents never really lose a child. That child lives on forever."

The church is located at 238 Main St. For more information, call 802 442-3141

- Mark E. Rondeau