As we enter October, we enter into Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.
For some, October is a joyous entering into fall with sweaters and boots, scarves and leaves, and pumpkin spice everything.
For others, it’s the recognition of a month that is dedicated to a loss that we may still not be prepared to face. Perhaps it’s a loss that is still processing through our minds. And hopefully, eventually, it’s a loss that comes with a sense of peace, knowing that there is much we just don’t need to understand.
For me, this month comes with a mix of feelings. On March 13, 2020, my husband and I mourned the loss of our first child through miscarriage. Today, we are awaiting the arrival of our sweet, rainbow girl. The journey through healing from a pregnancy loss is something I’m still trying to comprehend as if I’ll eventually find a formula that we can type into our brains, like one you’d use in an excel spreadsheet, to help us compute and move on. What I’m learning, though, is that with loss comes a shift in identity, a numbness that cannot be explained, and a loss of vision, yet eventually you find yourself in a season of rebuilding, a rediscovery of identity, and a renewed hope and vision for what is to come.
This season of rebuilding didn’t come through the discovery of a new pregnancy. In fact, questions like “Is this your first?” or “Do you have any other kids?” cut like a knife, despite the abundant joy this new pregnancy brings. The rebuilding came from a recognition that I could no longer heal alone, that I really did need help, and that reaching out didn’t mean I was weak, but that I was hurting.
One in four pregnancies end in loss. And although this number is quite large, few actually talk about their experiences. The impact of these losses take a huge toll on the grieving parents. But it also affects family members and friends.
If you’ve had a loss, know that you are not alone. The healing process and timeline will look different for every person. Seeking help in the healing process doesn’t mean you are weak and doesn’t mean that your baby will be forgotten as you heal. Your baby is significant and your grief is real.
Hope After Loss by Michaelene Fredenburg and Carol Porter is an incredible booklet that is short and easy to read with practical tips to sort out emotions (or lack thereof) find real healing.
Women’s Miscarriage Loss Virtual Support Groups, offered by Support After Abortion, are a great way to listen to others while processing your own grief. You’re allowed to share as you’re comfortable while being guided through.
Visit https://www.miscarriagehurts.com/ to find local help and support.
Contact a local counselor or therapist. You can also share your story with a trusted friend. Sometimes your grief is too big to deal with alone and that’s okay.
HELPFUL TIPS FOR FAMILY AND FRIENDS:
No matter their stage in pregnancy, remember that your loved one has not only lost a child, but a dream of things to come. Sending flowers, a card, or even a meal is a lovely gesture to show that you are thinking of them. You may not know what to say, but simply letting someone know you’re thinking of them and are there to listen will go a long way. Hope After Loss (linked above) is a short read that can help you understand where your loved one may be.
Things to avoid saying: “You’ll have another soon.” “It was God’s will.” “You were still pretty early.” While you mean well, these sayings tend to dismiss the very real loss.
Helpful things to say: “I’m here for you if you just need someone to listen.” “I don’t know what you’re feeling, but I want you to know you’re not alone.” “I’m so sorry for your loss.” Just letting them know you care and are there will go a long way to help their healing.