Nebraskan Connection
Charmel Clough, top left, Kaylinda DeTurk, top right, and Whitney White, bottom, get ready for the candle lighting ceremony the three women are hosting over Zoom on Thursday, Oct. 15. Oct. 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Lost Awareness Day. They honored 32 lost babies during the ceremony from seven different states and Australia. Photo Courtesy of Kaylinda DeTurk

Charmel Clough, Kaylinda DeTurk and Whitney White all knew of each other through friends of a friend. What connects the three women has nothing to do with going to the same high school or college or being mutual Facebook friends. It’s pregnancy loss. 

Clough and White both grew up in North Platte and attended North Platte High School together. White and DeTurk met each other while attending the University of Nebraska at Kearney. 

After White lost her pregnancy at 20 weeks in April, she didn’t want to be a part of “the loss club.” 

“I kind of shied away from other people because I thought like, no that’s the club I don’t want to be a part of,” White said.  

But when she teamed up with Clough and DeTurk, White changed her mind. Shortly after losing baby Maddox, White received a care package from Clough’s organization Emilia’s Wings. White began having a conversation with DeTurk about starting a nonprofit to donate care packages to women who have had miscarriages. 

DeTurk, who also founded a nonprofit called Linked in Loss, wanted to start a bigger project like a 5K for the month of October, White said. And with White’s connection to Clough, the three women came together for something bigger than themselves.

October is dedicated to pregnancy and infant loss awareness. Clough, DeTurk and White created the first annual Pregnancy and Infant Loss Walk to Remember allowing mothers and families to honor the babies who have died. 

The virtual walk began on Sunday, Oct. 11 and ended on Saturday, Oct. 17. Those who registered could walk, run and reflect on the loss of their child and could post images from their experience with the hashtag #iwalkandremember throughout the week. 

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The White family is photographed during the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Walk to Remember honoring baby Maddox who died 20 weeks into the pregnancy this past August. Photo courtesy of Whitney White.

Across seven different states and Queensland, Australia, 33 families walked in memory of the deaths of 34 babies. As part of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day Oct. 15, the three women hosted a candle lighting ceremony where they read the names of 32 babies who died, Clough said. 

“It really is just a way for families to honor their babies and to remember them in a safe environment where they feel comfortable to talk about their baby,” Clough said. 

Three of those babies were Clough’s, DeTurk’s and White’s. 

Based in Kansas City, Clough’s organization is named Emilia’s Wings after the daughter she lost at 33 weeks in March 2017. Both Clough and her husband founded the organization in May 2017, shortly after losing their daughter. 

Clough said that her organization and the walk provided opportunities for families like hers who lost a pregnancy or infant to talk about it. 

“For the longest time people want to treat it like such a taboo subject, and I think a lot of it is the fear of hurting families,” Clough said. “They don’t want to bring up a sad topic because it might make us sad when that is far from the opposite.”

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The Clough family takes a photo as they participate in the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Walk to Remember honoring baby Emilia who they lost 33 weeks into the pregnancy. Photo courtesy of Charmel Clough.

DeTurk experienced pregnancy loss when she lost her baby Lark eight weeks into the pregnancy in February 2017. She founded Linked in Loss in October 2019.  DeTurk runs the organization from Kearney. 

Linked in Loss offers a program called “A Letter to Baby” where the mother can write a letter to their baby, burn the letter and release the ashes. For the walk, they recommend mothers to write a letter to their baby, go on the walk and then after the walk, burn the letter. 

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Kaylinda DeTurk is photographed burning a letter to her baby who died eight weeks into her pregnancy in February 2017. Photo courtesy of Kaylinda DeTurk.

“It’s a loss, no matter what,” DeTurk said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re six weeks and you lose your baby, you still lost your baby. The second that you lose that baby, all of the hopes and dreams that you had for that baby and for yourself, are gone.”

White originally wanted nothing to do with the topic of pregnancy loss, but she found solace in the community of those who had lost a child and hopes the walk can provide that for others. 

“It’s really nice to find all of these people that I didn’t even know, some that I’m friends with, that went through a loss and now we’re connecting,” White said.

I am currently a senior journalism major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I am from Omaha, Nebraska and am the oldest of four (yes, I am a great babysitter; no, this is not care.com). As much as I complain about it, I love being busy. I love having way too much stuff going on because I thrive in those crazy situations. My mom likes to say I get it from her but I really think it's just because my house was so crazy growing up. I'm used to it.