Staff from Weed Army Community Hospital and members of the Fort Irwin, Calif., community lit flameless candles Oct. 14, 2022, during a Wave of Light ceremony in remembrance and recognition of infant and prenatal loss.
The annual ceremony brings awareness to infant and prenatal loss while providing families and loved ones an opportunity to remember those lost.
Capt. Tiffany Newcomb, chief of the Javier Villanueva Troop Medical Clinic and a Louisville, Ky., native, led the planning for the event.
“Experiences in my life and with my family and friends that went through miscarriage and having experience with fetal and infant loss, I just felt like this was something that I wanted to attend and support,” she said. “Being able to have the opportunity to make sure the event is planned and carried out is very meaningful and something that I’m passionate about.”
Newcomb said she first heard about the Wave of Light ceremony from Sgt. Vanessa Rodriguez, the Weed ACH schools noncommissioned officer.
Rodriguez, a Riverside, Calif., native, participated in the event last year as one of the guest speakers and shared her story of loss.
“I think last year was so emotional for me and I spoke on so many feelings that I had suppressed for so long that it was just a releasing of that, so when I knew this was coming around, I was like I have to [volunteer again],” Rodriguez said. “I know what it did for me and I didn’t know that I needed that but I definitely did, and if one person can feel a little bit of that, that’s a total win for us.”
Newcomb said the expectation for the event is that it would be a safe space to remember loved ones and to recognize that infant and perinatal loss is something that happens more often than is talked about.
“There’s no timeline for the process (of grief), so whatever stage they’re at in their process… They’re definitely welcome,” Newcomb said. “Just know that there is a lot of support available and our event is annual, so any year they want to come back [they are welcome].”
Planning the event with Newcomb provided an additional outlet for Rodriguez, she said.
“Going through my own loss and a recent loss this year, [planning the event] affected me in a good way knowing that I’ll be able to set something up for other families,” Rodriguez said. “I’m so happy to have a team that’s willing to go above and beyond for these families.”
Rodriguez said she hoped guests of the event take away the fact that sharing their grief is not negative.
“Their experiences are so important, and their feelings are so valid and that should be shared,” she said.
Newcomb said she also had hopes for attendees.
“I just hope that they feel a sense of love and support and a community there with them to know that they’re not alone,” Newcomb said.