October is around the corner and is a very special month for some families as this is the month nationally recognized as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Month.
The lack of understanding and awareness about this type of loss impacts research funding, support for families and caregivers, and possible measures for prevention. There is a misinterpretation that the bonds that are created during pregnancy are very minimal or haven’t been created yet, but it is important for the community to support people who have experienced this type of adversity. When we bring awareness to perinatal loss it can help to provide other family members and friends with communication skills to offer comfort. Uncovering perinatal loss creates an environment for healing.
One in four women will endure this type of loss in their lifetime but often the stigma keeps people from telling others what has happened. It can be very hard for families to explain to people what miscarriage, stillbirth and other causes of infant loss are. Providing a space for families to share their stories, honor the life of their child, and encouraging others to do the same can be therapeutic. There is no proper way to grieve or to process the experience and it may look different for every person. Friends and family can support parents who are grieving by providing a safe space to express their emotions, and by offering practical support. Helping with siblings and doing household tasks or providing meals can allow families time to begin to process their feelings. How parents handle loss, and are able to grieve, can be impacted by the care and compassion that they receive from their loved ones.
Other times that may bring up new feelings or the need for families to grieve the loss of a child is when they become pregnant again and give birth to a healthy baby. A rainbow baby is a fairly new term that was created to refer to a baby born after a loss. The term comes from the analogy of a rainbow appearing in the sky after a storm or difficult time in one’s life. Mixed emotions can surface after the birth of a rainbow baby, and may bring up feelings of happiness, guilt or remorse. It is normal to experience all of these emotions and the need to seek out support may emerge.
Although this is a very sensitive topic, it is something that is worthy of acknowledgment. There are many ways for people who have encountered this type of loss, and those who love them, to pay tribute and show their support. October 15th is the day that is nationally recognized as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, when a candle lighting vigil is held at 7PM across all time zones, called the International Wave of Light. Please remember that you are not alone and there are many online support forums and ways to get involved if you need to reach out.
Image Credit: Kanza Stott