Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness

In addition to being Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October is also a month for awareness about Pregnancy and Infant Loss. Throughout the month, across the nation, families join together for healing memory walks, special remembrance services, and healing retreats.

Today, October 15th, has been officially designated as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Today, families and friends, world-wide, honor their babies who have died, creating a special space in their lives for remembrance, grieving, and comforting, and will light a candle in their baby's memory.

You are invited to join the remembrance by lighting a candle at 7pm, in your respective time zone, to be a part of a world-wide wave of light in loving memory of all of the babies who have died and in support of all of the families who have experienced a miscarriage, still birth, or infant death.

For families who have experienced an early pregnancy loss, still birth, or infant death, I am including a list of local and national resources, information about coping with grief, and ways that friends and family can be supportive.

(this list is reprinted with permission from Nurture's resource list for Pregnancy and Infant Loss)
  • Baby Loss and Healing (support and information to families going through the loss of a baby)
  • Brief Encounters (support for parents whose babies have died before, during, or after birth)
  • The Dougy Center for Grieving Children and Families (support for children and their families who are grieving a death)
  • Exhale (A Literary Magazine for Intelligent People Who Have Lost a Baby, Or Have Trouble Making Babies in the First Place.)
  • Grief Watch (resources for bereaved families and professional caregivers)
  • MEND (Christian non-profit providing support for families who have suffered the loss of a baby through miscarriage, stillbirth, or early infant death)
  • M.I.S.S. Foundation (international support for grieving families providing crisis support and long term aid to families after the death of a child from any cause)
  • Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep (network of almost 7,000 volunteer photographers in the US who will meet with the family at a hospital or hospice location to help parents create beautiful heirloom memories of their child)
  • Remembering Our Babies October 15th (official site for the national remembrance day
  • (is a community for women and men with infertility and provides information and support during their family building journey)
  • The Secret Club Project (understanding pregnancy loss through the arts)
  • The TEARS Foundation (provides financial assistance to families in WA for final arrangements for their baby who has died)
  • Zen Community Jizo Ceremony (we honor their lost children by participating in a ceremony in the Jizo Bodhisattva remembrance garden)

(the following information has been reprinted with permission from Baby Loss and Healing)

Coping With Grief
Everyone grieves differently. Allow yourself to grieve. It could take weeks or months, even years. Also be aware that the mother's body will also go through major hormonal changes. Mom's, I cannot emphasize enough how imperative it is to seek help if you feel like harming yourself or anyone else. Hormones create such a powerful chemical reaction in your body and mind, and postpartum anxiety and/or depression should NOT be ignored.

Some foods that can help your brain feel good include nuts (especially almonds and
walnuts), bananas, turkey, eggs and milk. These all aid the brain in making serotonin, which in turn helps your brain feel "normal".

Many books and web sites explain a process that one goes through when grieving. Here is a look at what you can expect when grieving. I personally hit on every one of these (some more than once) in my journey so far. You may experience any or all of
these in your journey.

Shock, denial
Physical Symptoms
Awareness of Reality
Disorganization of Life
Preoccupation with Grief
of Situation
Ability to Talk of Loss with Acceptance

How family and friends can help
Every person is different in their reaction to a loss, their way of coping with grief and their personality. However, there are things that friends and family can do to help.

Listen. ~ When a grieving parent opens up to talk about what happened please listen to them. It's not easy for some people to talk about their loss, and they may not need you to say anything at all. But if you can open your ears and just let them get it out, it can do wonders for their progress in dealing with their loss.

Ask if they need anything or offer your help. ~ Even if they say no, this is a kind way of letting them know you care about them.

Do not tell them what they should or should not be feeling. ~ Again, every person grieves differently. Although you may not have had a special bond with the baby (especially in the case of miscarriage and/or stillbirth) they probably did, and they will need to grieve their loss their way in their time.

Let them cry. ~ I hear so often people say, "Oh, don't cry..." I understand that it can be uncomfortable when someone is crying, but crying is such a healthy way of releasing stress and processing feelings.

Don't say, "It was meant to be," "It was for the best," or "You can always try again." ~ Of all the women I have run across, these are the phrases no one wants to hear. Even if it was impossible for their baby to survive, that doesn't change the love, hope and dreams they had for their child. Rather I suggest a simple, "I'm so sorry for your loss."

Keep in mind that even if the parents who have lost a baby do get pregnant again it does not mean they have stopped loving and/or grieving their baby that is gone.

Please join me in lighting a candle from 7pm-8pm tonight.

No comments: