The death of a loved one can be emotionally crushing. For the past five years, people who have experienced the loss of a baby have been offered a comforting service through the collaboration between a local hospital and funeral home.

To Canton Funeral Home and Cemetery at Macedonia Memorial Park co-owner Joseph Hickey, providing proper services to grieving families is his priority. Because of his passion for giving back, Hickey and co-owner Bart Williams are celebrating their fifth year partnered with Northside Hospital Foundation and their H.E.A.R.T.strings department, helping grieving parents cope. H.E.A.R.T. stands for hope, empathy, alliance, resources and teamwork.

The H.E.A.R.T.strings department at Northside Hospital Foundation provides support to families experiencing the death of a baby, the loss of a pregnancy due to miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth, premature delivery, neonatal death, or termination due to complications with the baby or mother.

Hickey coordinates with the department to cover all burial fees and the fee of a small ceremony for these families either by the grave or inside their facility. Canton Funeral Home also handles the remains of deceased infants released by the hospital. They are cremated and placed in a dedicated place so people can be at peace knowing they are there. Hickey donated, and Northside dedicated, a statue of the Virgin Mary with a plaque in the area, memorializing their efforts.

“The hospital refers families to us and we take it from there,” Hickey said. “It’s a beautiful place, it’s really something. It’s worth it to me to help these families going through this devastating time.”

As the only local cemetery donating these services, Hickey believes this act will bring families some comfort. He said that families are extremely grateful for the offerings and Hickey is dedicating a second area because of the number of people using the program.

“When people lose a child, they typically are not in a good financial state or mental state,” Hickey said. “We handle everything necessary but we also offer the family the opportunity to buy a plaque for the grave. Not everyone purchases one, so every Christmas we take up a donation and provide plaques for all the graves in that area that don’t have one.”

The Canton Funeral Home is partnered with all local Northside campuses, but they work primarily with Northside Cherokee.

Hickey said, “I’m very proud of the H.E.A.R.T.string department and what they do, as well as what we do for these families. We have all different people and walks of faith come through our doors and we accept everyone.”

For more information about the Canton Funeral Home and Cemetery at Macedonia Memorial Park at 10655 E. Cherokee Drive, visit www.macedoniamemorial.com.

For more information on the H.E.A.R.T.strings department at the Northside Hospital Foundation, visit give.northside.com/about-us/perinatal-bereavement-fund-h-e-a-r-t-strings.

Born and raised in the Canton/ Woodstock area, a graduate of Reinhardt University and a lover of life.

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