SAN ANTONIO – The Any Baby Can nonprofit organization has seen an increase in families mourning the loss of their children over time.
The Center for Infant and Child Loss, a program Any Baby Can has had for 10 years, has helped in providing families in Bexar County and 18 surrounding counties with burial and funeral costs, as well as with locations to lay their children to rest.
“We give counseling support as well,” said Crystal Calvillo, case management director for Any Baby Can. “We also have a grandparent support group for grandparents, only because they mourn both the loss of their grandchildren ... grieve for their daughters and sons going through the loss also.”
The organization partners with funeral homes, such as the Chapel Hill Memorial Park Funeral Home and Crematory. There they have their own area, called "Baby Land," where only children are buried.
“We want families to feel supported through this tragic experience they are going through,” Calvillo said. “We want to be there for them at their most difficult times, whatever that may be for them. (That) is why we are here to support them as an agency.”
One mother who had no idea about the organization’s program is Rachel Apaez, who lost her 4-month-old son, David Elijah, to sudden infant death syndrome two years ago.
“It was like hell,” Apaez said. “It was like getting a piece of my heart and just ripping it out of my chest. It was the worst feeling ... a mother could have.”
Apaez was looking at a cost of over $1,300, but because of the support from family who informed her about Any Baby Can and the resources the organization offered to her, she was able to afford a proper burial and a headstone.
“It was an amazing feeling to know that I had my family's support (and the support of) people who don’t even know me, strangers who helped my family in need,” Apaez said.
Apaez said the organization also provided grief counseling for her and her children. She said she still misses her baby boy.
“At four months, he had a beautiful smile and laugh,” Apaez said. “He was energetic. He was my world. His nickname was Mariah Carey for my mom, and 'my white boy' to his other relatives because his complexion was so light, and he looked like a little white boy. I miss him. I want that back.”
Like Apaez, Amanda Cura also found herself in a desperate situation after her baby boy, Zachery, died one year ago.
“He was just 18 gestational weeks,” Cura said. “My body was forced into labor while I was at home. I had him at home, and he actually breathed four times in my hand before he passed away.”
Zachery would have been Cura’s fifth child. His funeral costs would have been $4,000.
“We didn't think anyone could feel what we were feeling,” Cura said. “We were lost and hurt. We didn't know what to do.”
She was introduced to Any Baby Can, which helped with emotional and financial support.
“They literally walked me through this process,” Cura said. “They were so sympathetic, always calling to check on me and make sure I was OK. They have made this process so easy for my family, and because of them, a year later, I don’t have to worry about my baby anymore because he is surrounded by angels.”
Both Apaez and Cura want other families going through the same traumatic situation to know there is an organization out there that will help them every step of the way.
For more information about this service with Any Baby Can, visit its website by clicking here.