Alexis Dallara-Marsh reflects on the loss of her unborn son, Alexander Lloyd, on All Souls Day, recalling our call to remember our departed loved ones in prayer.
On a cold fall day seven years ago, my husband and I sat silently in a waiting room for what felt like forever. When finally called in, my onstetrician was there to perform what was typically a routine ultrasound for our first child. That day, I knew something was seriously wrong, but it hadn’t quite hit me what it was. It was on that day we would be told our little boy, our precious Alexander Lloyd, had no heartbeat.
Our son would be born in the early morning hours of All Souls Day, November 2. For me as a Catholic, it felt so fitting. As I pushed, I still thought we would hear his cries upon entering the world, that they had made a mistake. He was so delicate: 1 lb, 8 oz. Holding him was like no feeling ever in the world. I still couldn't believe we would quickly after have to give him up. My arms were so heavy, longing to hold a baby that would no longer be with us. My gut, like he had been ripped out from inside me. To this day, I still feel the emptiness in my arms and belly.
To this day, our love lives on for our Alexander Lloyd. He will always be part of us. We hope by speaking about him, we can gain support for all others coping with similar losses of their beloved unborn babies. More importantly, however, Alexander Lloyd reminds me of one of the many joys I can pray to encounter in striving for life after death.
It is written in the Bible that Christ says, "whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me. (Matthew 25:40). I often wonder if the group the least thought about are those we can no longer see living. In this world, we all tend to forget relatively quickly the faithful departed. Maybe we remember immediately after they leave our lives, or on an anniversary, or special holiday. But as we go about our day-to-day busy lives, do we take the time out to reflect on our relationship with the deceased; to cultivate and nourish it through prayer? If we truly believe in our Lord, one's physical death on Earth is not the end but only the beginning.
We should love and honor the dead. In our society today, there is so much fear and discomfort when using the D-word, that we tend to avoid talking about death at all costs. But why?
Love transcends death. As Catholics, it is our duty to offer prayers for the deceased as frequently as possible. Not just on All Souls Day, but every day, as much as possible.
For others who have watched a loved one and want to pray for him or her, I recently came across the author Susan Tassone. Catholics have regarded her as having a special expertise regarding the souls of Purgatory. Her writing concentrates on the importance of being intentional with prayer and asking for mercy for lost souls. We believe that once in Purgatory, these souls are unable to perform redemptive acts on their own accord. But when we pray for them, we can help to restore their relationship with God. For example, our Lord promised Saint Gertrude that 1000 souls would be released from Purgatory each time the following prayer is said devoutly.
Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world, today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the Universal Church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen.
Take a moment and imagine being able to see souls ascend to Heaven! God's grace is so good, but He asks for our prayers, and for a mutual relationship of love and devotion to Him.
Today, I offer praise to God for the time he allowed me with my unborn Alexander. I will recognize that all things work together for good in the eyes of God. I pray for those who have passed on before me, my family members as well as strangers I've never known but who maybe the world has forgotten.
Who will you take the time to pray for today? How can your love continue to flourish for those who came before you?
Copyright 2020 Alexis Dallara-Marsh
Image: Karim Manjra (2018), Unsplash
About the Author
Dr. Alexis Dallara-Marsh is a board-certified neurologist who practices in Bergen County, NJ. She is a wife to her best friend, Akeem, and a mother of two little ones on Earth, plus two others in Heaven above.