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Guest Column:By Dan Shriner

Lynch offers kindness in face of tragedy

February 06, 2013 - This is a story about the saddest event that a parent can ever experience.

It also is a story that will reinforce the fact that there are wonderful and compassionate people in our community.

Paul and Angela (Bono) Halik are Oxford residents but Angela was raised in Lake Orion.

On September 26, Angela gave birth to a baby girl named Haley at St. John Hospital in Detroit.

Sadly, Haley was premature and did not survive.

Angela remembered the compassion shown her family at the hospital but that was soon to change.

While at the hospital, the Haliks were told of different options for burial or cremation. They chose to use a funeral home close to the hospital in Detroit that was affiliated with St. John to cremate their daughter.

They were told by hospital personnel that Haley's ashes would be made available to them in two to four weeks.

Angela said she called the funeral home after four weeks and was told by a woman there that they had not picked up Haley.

"She told me that Haley missed the last pickup for the babies by a day so it would be another four weeks before she would be cremated."

Initially, Angela said, she did not understand what the funeral home worker meant.

"Babies? I'm confused. I had only one baby, not multiples," she said, not realizing there were other babies from other families also to be cremated.

After another four weeks, Angela called again.

The same woman spoke with her again and said Haley's ashes still were not available.

"She told me 'There must not have been 15 babies yet,'" Angela said.

"What are you talking about?" Angela said she asked the worker.

"Once there are 15 babies who have died, the funeral home makes one trip over to St. John Hospital to pick up 'the batch of babies' and does a 'mass cremation,'" Angela said she was told.

"This is not what I wanted to hear," Angela said, but was once again told to call back in another month.

So, on December 20, Angela called again and was told by the funeral home worker that there is now an "issue" between the hospital and the funeral home and no babies have been picked up and cremated.

"My baby was still in the hospital morgue," Angela grieved, only a few days before Christmas and three months since Haley died.

Trying to find some kind of help, Angela called the hospital and talked to a nursing supervisor who assured her that Haley's ashes would be available to her soon after the first of the year.

On January 21 – now four months after Haley's death -- Angela called the funeral home and was told there is still an "issue" between the hospital and funeral home so no babies have been picked up and cremated.

"I was about to lose it. This process is so painful. Offensive, unprofessional and mortifying. As if we haven't been through enough."

Angela called the hospital and asked if another funeral home could pick up Haley.

"She said because of all of the legality involved in death, she can't release Haley to me directly but I can contact another funeral home and they would be the responsible party to pick up Haley."

So, Angela contacted Lynch & Sons Funeral Home, in Oxford.

"I talked with Melissa Lynch. She is heartbroken as I'm telling my story. I asked her if Detroit is too far away and she says, 'absolutely not.'"

A few minutes later Kevin Lynch called her. "The professional, compassionate and caring tone was so comforting and reassuring. For the first time in four months I felt like a cinder block was lifted off my heart," she said.

"He talked about Haley as a person, not a dead, forgotten baby. He assured me that he will personally take care of her. He refused any monetary offer or donation. He wholeheartedly wanted my husband and I to have our daughter's ashes back immediately. He wanted us to begin to heal and start 2013 in the right direction," she said.

"Mr. Lynch said something remarkable to me during that phone conversation. He said: 'I was raised with the belief that children and babies are not meant to die, therefore, we do not charge families for funeral services.'

"The professional and compassionate care that my family has received from Lynch & Sons funeral home is beyond words."

Five days after Angela's conversation with Kevin Lynch, "Haley's ashes are home with us."

Former Leader Editor Dan Shriner will cover Wildcat football this season.
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