Cemeteries adorned with autumn colors are frequently visited in November, a month –in some Christian faith traditions—of special remembrance of souls preceding us in death. Among the solemn grey stones we remember the people who touched our lives and our world for many years. Some graves, however, blanket tiny bodies who physically touched only the womb in which they were carried, and were known to very few. Human nature beckons parents and family to grieve the loss of a child in memorial, no matter the circumstances or age.
The founders, Nathan and Mollie Verdier have begun a journey to make commemoration more accessible for those who’ve experienced loss of a child in pregnancy. Ground is not yet broken for Morgan’s Place, but plans are well underway for this non-profit birth-loss cemetery to be located in Shelby County Ohio.
The cemetery is named after a child of theirs. Morgan lived only a few weeks in the womb in 2018. The difficult logistics of burying Morgan were not the only challenges faced by the couple. Obtaining the remains was the first, as it is not standard practice at hospitals for children under 20 weeks gestation to be released to parents for burial. The Verdiers had to request special permission for this, which they were able to receive by the advocacy of their doctor. At the turn of the year, in 2019, they lost another child; one of a set of triplets, whom they named Marion. (The twins, who survive, are M & Ms as well, and their other six siblings all have names starting with the same letter.) The mourning family decided to dedicate 2.5 acres of their farmland for burial of Morgan and Marion, but also to assist other families who suffer similar loses.
After a time, Mollie was able to share her story: "Grief consumed me most days, everyone in the family grieves, grandparents and siblings too. Those who leave the hospital with empty arms, suffer a loss so unique and so hidden. It’s a love story really, but it takes some time to be able to share. Now I choose to share my love story of my babies, not for pity, likes or comments of sympathy, but because they deserve to be acknowledged. They are my babies. The picture I hold in my mind of my beautiful family includes not only my eight children that run, but also the two that fly".
At Morgan’s Place, children who die before birth, or within a very short time afterward, would be buried at no charge to the family. At regular cemeteries, plots can range from $500 to $1000 and some (but not all) funeral homes charge for their services. They have partnered with several local Funeral homes in the area to assist with cremation and burials at no charge. The only cost at Morgan’s place would be for a burial marker (generally $100 to $150) which hopefully can be covered through generous donations.
In this unique cemetery, most of the initial 4,160 plots will be the final resting place of children lost to miscarriage or stillbirth, but Morgan’s Place will likely also be a place of respectful burial for aborted children as long as abortion remains legal. It is not yet clear what percentage of the plots will be used for this purpose. Much depends on current legislation introduced by the Ohio Senate (SB 27), which would require the abortion industry to arrange for respectful burial or cremation of the aborted remains, regardless of how intact they are. Of course, ideally we would like to see abortion become illegal, but in the meantime, there is effort to show dignity to these lost children.
Those in ministry for post abortion recovery (for men and women) will certainly welcome Morgan’s Place as an opportunity for closure for mothers, fathers or other relatives of aborted children. It’s even possible that some post-abortive parents who experience conversions and grief following abortion may one day be able to locate the actual site of their child’s resting place, thanks to a plot directory which would be generously provided by Cemsites.com. A common practice at post-abortion healing retreats is a symbolic memorial service. Even if a post abortive parent does not have a child buried at the cemetery it would be a place of healing and remembrance by placing a name plate in their honor, or perhaps they could do for an other child what they could not do for their own – maintain a plot or assist at a funeral–and in that way aid in forgiving themselves, which often seems an elusive part of their healing.
This is a worthy cause, but establishing a cemetery is more costly than one might expect, as there are regulations that must be met, fencing to enclose the property and foundations laid to eliminate settling of plots. Official fundraising efforts are not yet underway, but the cemetery will come to fruition with successful fundraising. Tax deductible gifts of any size will be welcome. Official fundraising efforts will be announced at a later time. In the meantime, offerings of prayer are also welcome.