October is here. Days are getting shorter, there is a crisp to the morning air and trees are turning colors. Pumpkins are put out, and Halloween decorations go up. Colors associated with October are black and orange and of course pink for breast cancer awareness. Everything turns pink for breast cancer awareness month. Prior to January 2013, I wore a pink ribbon in support and had no idea about another little talked about awareness that October is known for. Pregnancy and Infant loss. The colors are pink and blue. The numbers are staggering. One in FOUR women will experience pregnancy and or infant loss. I have experienced both. I’ll tell my story another time.
People don’t talk about when a baby dies or is still birth. Many times people brush a miscarriage under the rug, tell casual stories of theirs or their mothers, or aunts or friends and thinking it just isn’t a big deal. Same thing by calling a stillbirth a miscarriage. A stillbirth means that a mother had to go through labor to give birth to a baby that has already died. People also think if a baby dies that it’s just a baby, they weren’t here long enough to get attached or that you can just have another. Trust me I have heard it all. It is deeply sad and people don’t know how to handle that. It is uncomfortable and distressing.
Imagine being the parent. The best way to educate about infant loss is to talk about it. The causes, living with it, how to comfort or be a friend to someone who has experienced it, because with it being 1 in 4 I can assure you, you do know someone. So what can you do when your friends baby dies?
It is the most jarring, life altering shocking thing to hear your pregnancy, baby or infant didn’t survive. It isn’t natural in the span of life. It turns you from the inside out. It is the most helpful to just be there for your friend. No matter what. Do not try to talk her out of her feelings. This type of loss is scary, uncomfortable and raw. It is messy and ugly. Just be there. To listen, to run errands, to cook and to just be.
Things that actually aren’t helpful: Unless you too have lost a baby in a similar manner, please don’t say “I know how you feel”. Don’t compare a loss of a parent, sibling, aunt or pet. Do not ever start a sentence with the words “at least”. Nothing that follows will be helpful. Don’t say “God needed another angel” or “there is a reason”.
Do say the child’s name. Remember them during special family times, talk about them, tell people about them. Remember them with their family. Do let the family know you remember with them. Educate yourself about grief with this type of loss. Do invite them to events or milestones in the family, but be understanding if they can’t come. They want to but sometimes it is too hard, but don’t decide for them, sometimes they really can handle it and want to be there. Most of all just be a light in their darkness.
October 15th is infant loss awareness day. At 7 pm we are going to light the world in a wave of light for all the babies gone to soon. For Vivienne, Bean, Grasshopper, Harper, Bradley, Landon, Sawyer, Ferris, Wyatt, Blake, Cooper, Chance, Tess, Jones, Annalise…and all the little souls….We remember you…and will make October bright in your light with pink and blue.