I recently mourned for a friend who observed the loss of her firstborn son, who would have been 8 years old this year. His death at just a few days old left an unimaginable grief, along with crippling evidence to remind his family of their loss. As they drove home, his mom and dad battled the pain of seeing the empty car seat in their rearview mirror. They came home to a vacant crib in an unoccupied nursery. A closet full baby clothes would go untouched. Even eight years later, the damage to their hearts leaves a scar that resembles a blue-eyed, brown-haired boy.
Their mourning compares to so many other hopeful parents who have lost a baby way too soon. What should be some of the happiest and most exciting days of your life can be marred in an instant by unthinkable tragedy. It is during these times, after a loss of such magnitude, that you could feel alone in your pain. However, this heartbreaking fate has touched so many more lives, directly or indirectly, that also mourn along with you. As each of us remembers our pain individually, there is also a day where we can come together all over the world in remembrance of those that were lost.
October 15 is known as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Since 1988, President Ronald Reagan has declared the month of October to be National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month in the United States. In the years since then, several supporters have worked to make sure October 15 is recognized as a day where the community of grieving parents and loved ones can find support in others who know their grief. Now, this day is acknowledged across many continents in remembrance of these babies we have lost. The world comes together on October 15 at 7 p.m. in their respective time zones and lights candles to honor these lives and show our care for those relatives and friends left behind in their grief.
Losing a pregnancy or an infant is something you will never forget, and the memories can haunt you even years later. Understanding the sorrow and finding the help to live even as pain lives is one of the ideas behind Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Some thoughts on how to best commemorate your loss can aid in how you move forward.
1. Find someone you can talk to
Silence is a danger when pain festers without release. Your silence can potentially worsen your heartache because you are not able to verbally acknowledge your true feelings. Whether you are finding comfort in a spouse, parent, family member, or friend, trusting someone with your emotions and being able to express them aloud is therapeutic. National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month was also created so that you can connect with others who have experienced similar heartbreak. Reach out to someone that has been in your shoes and walks through life with a renewed strength.
2. Find a support group
On top of having someone to share your feelings with, there are many types of support groups that can be beneficial when going through the grieving process. An infertility support group or infant loss group that is available to you in your community can help you form relationships with people who will see you through your grief and know the best ways to help.
3. Commemorate your loss in your own way
You may choose to light a candle on October 15 each year to join the masses as they remember those little faces that were gone too soon. However, your family may also choose to do something else positive each year to see hope in light of darkness. Some communities organize walks or plant trees in honor of the ones lost. It may be right for your family to give to an organization that helps other families devastated by this pain or just have a get-together with the ones you love to maintain support each year that passes. Find something that fits your family and helps to remember your journey from pain.
Jill is a 31-year-old wife and mom. She has been married to her husband, Brannon, for eight years and has 4-year-old and 3-month-old daughters. Jill and her husband are currently in the adoption process to bring another baby into their home. Jill lives in a small community in Kentucky. She has her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Spanish and obtained her Master’s degree in Christian Ministries. Jill’s passions are her faith, her family, writing, playing sports, and eating good food.