Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month
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Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month is celebrated during the month of October. This month is designed to be a safe place for those who are experiencing the loss of their child. It is also a month for families of those who are grieving to better learn how to support their loved ones. The goal of this month is to teach individuals how to gently and sensitively communicate with those who may be grieving the loss of their baby. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), over a million pregnancies end in miscarriages or stillbirths each year. This is a large number of people who are being affected. This is why knowledge on how to communicate and support those who are grieving this loss is super important.
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month came about in 1988 when President Reagan designated the entire month of October to women who have lost a baby through miscarriage, stillbirth or in the early months of the child being born.
In 2002, Robyn Bear, Lisa Brown and Tammy Novak came together as mothers who were grieving the loss of their children. They came together after they realized that many of their families were unable to fully understand the pain and loss they were going through. They pushed to have October 15th set aside to fully support and recognize the mothers who have lost their children. Their goal was to get proclamations of support from all 50 states.
In 2003, the event The International Wave of Light was created. On October 15th at seven o’clock at night, people around the United States light candles to show their support to mothers who may have lost their baby. This happens at seven o’clock in all time zones, so it is meant to represent a wave of candles turning on throughout the United States. It wasn’t until the year 2016 when all 50 states had a proclamation to honor October 15th as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. This movement came from a lot of work from Bear, Brown and Novak as well as many other strong women.
Things to Remember:
Everyone experiences grief differently. If you know someone who is dealing with the loss of their child through miscarriage, stillbirth or in early infancy, do not minimize their feelings. All feelings during the grieving process are valid.
Ways to Observe:
During this month there are many ways that individuals can acknowledge those who have lost their babies. There is no one way or “right” way to do this. Every individual or family can have their own unique way to honor these children, mothers and families.
Below are some common ways that individuals and communities have used to express support and recognition to those who have experienced this loss.
Light a candle.
Whether you do this individually or with a group, lighting and displaying candles is a good way to show your support. You can light a candle in your own home or attend a candlelight vigil that some churches or communities hold each year. As mentioned, there is The International Wave of Light which consists of everyone at 7 o’clock pm on October 15th to light a candle to show their support.
Tie a ribbon around a tree.
In some communities, it is common to tie pink or blue ribbons around trees in the community in remembrance of those children lost.
There is no right way to show support and recognition during this time. Every family or individual can have their own unique way of showing their love and support. This is just a time of remembrance and a time to support families who are grieving. It is important to remember that there is no one way to grieve. Everyone’s grieving process will look different. If you are someone who has loved ones dealing with the loss of their baby, let them grieve. Let them know that their feelings are valid and that they are loved. Take the month of October to show your support for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.
Author: Samantha Potocnik
Samantha is an intern at EVOLVE and a student at the University of Wisconsin River Falls.