Every year, women all over the world support one another by observing a day in October for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness. That day is October, 15th and includes an international wave of light. Women and families gather to light a candle in remembrance of their child.
1 out of 4 pregnancies in the United States, end in a miscarriage. 1 out of 160 pregnancies end in stillbirth. I am 1 out of 4.
“You were carried for only a moment, but are loved for a lifetime.” – Unknown
Why We Need To Talk About Pregnancy and Infant Loss
Research shows that a majority of women report experiencing feelings of shame, self-blame and guilt following pregnancy loss. People often don’t know what to say when it comes to pregnancy loss or loss of a child. Our friends and loved ones mean well and say things like: “Everything happens for a reason”, “At least you know you can get pregnant”, “Be grateful for what you have”, “God has a plan”, “At least you weren’t very far along”, It wasn’t meant to be”. With comments like these, it can be tempting to shut down or to feel ashamed of our losses and our grief. If you have experienced a loss, unless asked, this is not the time to compare your story with theirs.
Instead, simply saying things like, “I’m deeply sorry for your loss.”, “Grief knows no timeline, take all the time you need.”, or “I’m here for you, always” can be more supportive. It’s important to let them know you are there for them and not assume what women or their partners feel when they lose a baby.
Partners also suffer and can experience many emotions and feelings at the loss of a pregnancy. They can feel isolated and helpless when they have emotional loss and not a physical loss. Partners are often expected to remain strong to provide support. Their own feelings of sadness and loss may be hidden in the process. It is important that each partner is given the opportunity to express their loss without blame.
Couples experiencing grief over a pregnancy loss often discover that their responses are different from one another. This is normal but it can place a strain on a relationship if not recognized. Talking about differences can be helpful.
Children are often unprepared for loss. They need both patience and support in helping them to understand. How much a child can understand depends on each individual child. Generally children deal best with loss if they are given information that is appropriate for their age. There are booklets especially prepared for children.
“If there ever comes a day where we can’t be together, keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever.”
– Winnie the Pooh
How To Seek Help When You Are Ready
Losing a child or having a miscarriage is unimaginable and something no one should have to go through. It may be hard to process and form words to describe the pain. You may wonder why this happened. You are not alone and shouldn’t feel alone. Help is available when you are ready. Find an online support group here or find a local support group in your area. Your doctor and staff will have helpful resources available to you as well. If you are more comfortable talking to someone, finding a local therapist near you, may be helpful.
“You never arrived in my arms, but you will never leave my heart.” – Zoe Clark-Coates
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*Sources: https://pregnancyafterlosssupport.org/get-involved/pail-awareness-month/, https://www.who.int/news-room/spotlight/why-we-need-to-talk-about-losing-a-baby, https://reproductivementalhealth.ca/