'Our hearts hold what our arms could not'

New bricks added to Heartfelt Remembrance Memorial


Seward residents saw dozens of butterflies fly on May 26 for the 10th annual Heartfelt Remembrance Memorial.

Diane Krieser, president of Heartfelt Remembrance, established the memorial in 2015 to commemorate children who’ve passed, letting families know their child lived and will be remembered.

Those attending the event came to the Heartfelt Children’s Memorial, a park at the corner of Hillcrest and Columbia in Seward, adorned with bricks displaying a child’s name, birth date, heaven date and a short message, Krieser said.

The memorial welcomed in the 15 new bricks purchased between March of the previous year to March of the current year. 

“To dedicate a brick, the etching of a child’s name on a brick, is another validation that the child had lived and that we’re going to remember them in the memorial together with all the other children that had passed too soon,” Krieser said.

The ceremony started at 3 p.m. with opening remarks from Krieser followed by a prayer led by JoEllen Axthelm, pastor of the Seward United Methodist Church.

“God, we know that days like today can be so hard, but also so good,” Axthelm said. “We thank you for the lives that have lived well. We thank you for the tiniest ones to the oldest ones and that each life mattered and still matters.”

Losing someone you love is hard, Krieser said, and losing your child is like losing your hopes and dreams.

“If you lose your parent, you lose your past,” Krieser said. “When you lose your spouse, you lose your present. But when you lose your child, you lose your future.”

Kyle Soflin, pastor of Hillcrest Evangelical Free Church, shared his story of his child passing before birth. Soflin said that even though he is unable to get to know who his child was, he still holds love for them.

“Who was our baby…We really didn’t have the opportunity to meet them, to know them, to hold them. Even still, we certainly got the opportunity to love them,” Soflin said. “As our memorial brick says, our hearts hold what our arms could not.”

The ceremony wrapped up with the release of butterflies, symbolizing a message being sent to a loved one no longer alive. This year’s memorial saw 80 butterflies being let into the air.

“You wish upon a butterfly, it will go to heaven and tell them your message,” Krieser said. 

Krieser said she’s grateful for the impact the memorial has for families that have lost loved ones.

“You hear many people saying ‘I am so glad you do this. Thank you for remembering my child in this way,’” Krieser said. “It can be a pretty emotional time for lots of families, but they know they’re there with all sorts of other parents who are walking the same path as they are and thankfully they’ve got their friends and other loved ones with them to support them.”

Tracy Howell, a volunteer for the memorial, said finding community and a sense of commonality is what allows this memorial to bring families together. 

“You’re a part of this club you never asked to be in,” Howell said. “Even if you’ve talked to someone once and you’ve heard their story, there is so much love and so much understanding.”