There have been several news stories in the past year, of parents in Hong Kong who had an early miscarriage, and even though they desperately wanted to bury their child, they were not allowed to. The Hong Kong government only allowed burials for fetuses who died after 24 weeks gestation.
During the past year, the Hong Kong Catholic diocese has made it possible for Catholic parents to have legal burials. Before that, only private informal burials were possible, and there was no way to perform them legally.
Starting next year, three cemeteries in Hong Kong will be following the example of the Catholic Church in creating “Angel Gardens”. This is not necessary or possible for many couples. But for couples who want to do this, it will be a beautiful way to remember their child.
Miscarriage is not an easy subject to discuss. Even the grammar and vocabulary is difficult, and I still don’t know the proper terms to use in English. For example, should we say, “early miscarried fetus”? Or “child that died in an early-term miscarriage”? Or “early miscarriage baby”?
Medical professionals say “abortus”, and also refer to a “miscarriage” as an “abortion”. This can be very confusing. I understand the logic of the medical terminology. And maybe it’s linguistically more convenient. But it leads to a lack of empathy (and clarity) in communicating with patients.
Anyway, it’s important that we learn how to talk about miscarriage in a way that’s respectful and humane, and also ordinary. Because miscarriage is surprisingly common.
The Christian Cemetery in Tao Fong Shan is planning to start as soon as possible, pending government permission. They will hold a press conference on December 24 about this new part of their ministry.