Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month
When a child loses his parents, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them.”- President Reagan, 1988
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month is marked every October. During the entire month, we honor and remember those who have lost a child during pregnancy or in their infancy. Pregnancy is a beautiful season for lots of people around the world, coming with lots of excitement as they plan and prepare for the arrival of their bundles of joy. Sadly, as life would have it, lots of mishaps happen any trimester and the first few months after the birth of a child.
Dealing with death is never easy. The death of a baby, either through miscarriage or during infancy, is no exception. There is no way to explain the grief people go through for a person who was there yet not there but somehow was in the lives of the expectant persons. There are no instructions on how to grieve the loss of a child. Millions of mixed feelings will be experienced across the board. Please allow yourself and the other concerned parties as much time necessary to recover from the grieving process. Healing time between family members will be different, but eventually, peace will prevail once again.
If you find yourself in this situation of loss either as a parent, family member or friend, you do not have to face this alone. It is important for mothers, couples, and families to attend therapy and be a part of support groups as part of the grief and healing process. There is power in numbers and some comfort in knowing there are other people out there that are going through the same emotions as you.
Many parents blame themselves when they lose a child. A good support group will guide you to come to terms with the loss and hopefully help you realize you are not to blame. You need to open up about what you are experiencing. Talking about your feelings and emotions with your partner, a friend, a counselor, or spiritual leader will help you make sense of your loss.
Taking care of yourself physically is just as important as taking care of yourself emotionally. Eat healthily. Hydrate, seriously. Take a nap as often as possible. Food and sleep are miracle doctors. Get some fresh air. Having a healthy body often promotes a healthy mind and visa-versa, and healing means taking care of yourself and learning to refocus. Some parents might be afraid to heal for fear of forgetting their child. That will never happen. You will have their memory forever. Your child will always be in your heart, permanently.
The loss of a child is a difficult topic for everyone involved. For extended family members finding the right thing to say at the right time is probably the most difficult. Not underestimating the amount of grief is one way to help your family member. Make your family member feel as though the baby mattered to you too. Be supportive by helping the parent deal with life after the loss. Invite them for joyous celebrations and avoid bringing up the topic. If they open up, listen supportively. Everyone grieves differently, so the loss should never be minimized.
One more thing, even if you did or know someone who went through something similar, avoid piling on the moment. Let people grieve in peace without adding to the statistics, it’s bad enough already. Bonus point; do not suggest that they can always get more children as a replacement. It is tacky and insensitive.
When the time is right, you might want to consider suggesting a memorial for the baby. Parents are appreciative of any help they can get during the loss of a child. Be there and be a good friend. They will forever remember and appreciate your support.