By Tracy Klehn, Valencia Community Contributor
On any given weekend in the Santa Clarita Valley, you can see people walking or running to benefit a worthy cause. On Sunday, November 19, 2017, one more walk was held. It may not have been a long one were it to be measured in miles, but has been a marathon journey of the heart and soul for all those in attendance.
Families of the Infant and Pregnancy Loss Support Group of Santa Clarita Valley gathered together that day at Eternal Valley in remembrance of their babies. The day began with a service at The Chapel of the Oaks where there was music, scripture readings and a message given by Brennan Conklin of Real Life Church. Following the service, pink and blue balloons were handed out to the seventy family members in attendance along with a paper butterfly imprinted with the name of their child. Families took a moment together to carefully tie their butterfly on to the ribbon. The official “Walk to Remember” then began. From the chapel, a winding road led a short distance up a hill towards the tree that was planted in 1996 to honor all of the infants and children that have passed away in the Santa Clarita Valley. This is where the balloons were released, accompanied by tears, hopes, prayers and much love. A dessert reception completed the day. The tight-knit group continued to share their journey over treats lovingly prepared by members of the community that have been holding them close in thought and prayer.
Vicki Zeilinger is the facilitator of this vital SCV support group. She began attending the group when, after already experiencing ten miscarriages, her son Timothy Jacob died at full term on July 29, 1994. At the time, Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital nurse Peggy Elgin was facilitating the support group and the Walk to Remember. Zeilinger says, “My first comfort was God and then my husband and family. Peggy and the other families I met in the Infant and Pregnancy Loss Support Group were a huge source of comfort as they provided me a safe place for me to feel what I was feeling without judgment.” After Zeilinger had attended for five years, Elgin asked her to help facilitate the group and the Walk under her direction. Six months later, Elgin informed Zeilinger she was retiring and asked if she would be willing to take over the group.
Vicki Zeilinger continues to faithfully lead the group, which meets monthly. She states, “In the last six months I have noticed a large influx into our group of hurting families who don’t know what to do with their loss. Statistically speaking, most couples who lose a child will end up in divorce. It is my personal goal to give couples hope in the midst of their grief along with tools to cope with the differing grieving styles that men and women have.”
The group currently meets at the Henry Mayo Fitness and Health Center on Town Center Drive on the third Thursday of each month from 7 to 9 PM. If you are interested in attending or receiving more information about the group or the Walk, please contact [email protected]