Infant's death drew parents into long, painful journey

Diane Morin

Diane Morin

April 23, 2012

Diane Morin's whole life has been one long struggle of trying to get closer to Jesus. Despite many roadblocks, she is thankful that both she and Jesus persisted.

As a child, through her grandparents' influence, Morin was hungry for God and at times heard his call. She had a childhood connection with Jesus.

But after her grandparents died, religion ceased altogether in her family. Her father's family were Irish Catholics, but moved to England and turned to Anglicanism. Her mother wanted nothing to do with the Church.

"I went through my teen years with my mother's negative attitude towards religion becoming mine. I totally turned away from God," said Morin.

She spoke at the April 14 Edmonton Catholic charismatic prayer breakfast at the Chateau Louis Conference Centre.

Her childhood connection to Jesus was pretty much dead when she met her future husband, Roger. They married over 40 years ago at St. Anthony's Church in Edmonton.

In August 1972, in the first year of their marriage, they moved to Gagnon, a small mining community deep in the wilderness of northern Quebec. It was a town of bush, rocks and lakes.

They were ecstatic to learn that they would soon have their first child. When Diane was two weeks overdue, she went to the hospital, which she described as "little more than a first aid station."

None of the staff spoke English. It was a long, difficult birth. Eventually she was anaesthetized for the delivery.

When she awoke groggily, Roger told her they had a son. They named him Jamie. When she asked the nurses about seeing her newborn, she was informed he was very ill and in an incubator, and would be flown to Quebec City that day.


"We were not given the opportunity to accompany him to Quebec City. All I remember is seeing a baby through a tiny window in the nursery," said Morin.

"He was all connected to wires and tubes. His little chest was swollen. I didn't feel much connection yet because I wasn't awake when he was born, and I hadn't been able to touch him yet."

Later, she stood in the hallway as medical personnel wheeled her son to the plane. She asked to touch him, but her request was denied. Her husband took a photo of the small plane as it left.

They phoned the hospital, trying to get information about their son. No one provided details. They had no input into his care. The next day, they chartered a plane and flew to Quebec City.

"We were escorted into a small office. A doctor came into the office and sat down at the desk across from us, and basically all he said was, 'There was nothing we could do for your son. We turned off the machine. He passed away this morning,'" said Morin.


One minute they had a son, and the next minute they didn't. It was a confusing time for them.

"We returned to our lives in Gagnon, and lived our lives as though the last two days had happened to someone else. We were emotionless and numb."

In 1973, they returned to Edmonton, supposedly leaving that painful year of their lives back in Quebec.

Life went on. They were blessed with two healthy children, a daughter in 1975 and a son the next year. Their children's Baptisms renewed their interest in the Church. They attended St. John Bosco Church and made new friends there.

Diane converted to Catholicism in 1981. Again she realized that the love of Jesus is real, alive and active.

She went to a live-in retreat where a woman spoke of the miscarriages she had experienced. More than others, she felt distraught to hear such stories.

"Every time I heard about someone losing a child, I got very upset and I seemed to feel their pain," Morin said.

While working as a teaching assistant at a Catholic school, two students committed suicide a week apart. She did not know the students, but after meeting their mothers, she felt their grief.

An emotional wreck, she sought help. She told a grief counsellor that she had lost a child 20 years earlier. She took three months off work to deal with her problems.

"I was now being forced to grieve. I had not allowed myself to grieve, nor had Roger. I had no idea that we'd both suppressed our grief for over 20 years."

Diane was advised to purchase a doll that was as lifelike as possible, and use it to act out some of her feelings. The doll became like Jamie for her.


"I rocked him and cried for hours. It was so healing. Many nights I went to sleep holding that little doll in my arms," she said.

Diane had learned how to play the guitar, and composed a song about Jamie.

"The hardest thing for me was the fact that I had not been able to touch him and let him feel my love. Through the song, I was finally able to let him know this, and release him into God's care."

Diane has since played the song and told Jamie's story for many other parents who have lost a child.

In 1997 she learned her son was buried in a common plot for babies who had died at the hospital during the 1970s. Roger's cousin built a wooden cross with Jamie's name on it and placed it there.

"On our first visit there, Roger trudged through over three feet of snow to place a single rose for our little one. He finally had the closure he needed to heal.

"We've now travelled many times together with our children, son-in-law and grandchildren, and we've placed roses and wreaths on the small cross."


Jamie's story is one of God taking a tragedy and turning it into a beautiful example of renewal, faith, love and joy. Jamie has helped Diane give healing to others suffering the same loss.

Generations of Roger's family had been separated. Cousins in Quebec had not spoken to those in the West. Crediting Jamie's intercession, Diane said the family's 80-year separation has since been overcome. He has fulfilled the family's dream to be reunited.

"Jamie's life was short, and he was never allowed to feel the love we had for him. He was showing us that he knows. He has shown his love for us by bringing together the family that was separated for so long."