In his speech declaring October as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month Ronald Regan said, “When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them. This month recognizes the loss so many parents experience across the United States and around the world. It is also meant to inform and provide resources for parents who have lost children due to miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy, stillbirths, birth defects, SIDS, and other causes.”
As heartbreaking as it is and as full of happy healthy babies social media seems to be, pregnancy and infant loss happens more than you may think, which is likely the reason Regan dedicated a whole month to its awareness. 10-15% of all pregnancies are lost, and around 22,335 infants are lost each year in the United States. Whether or not we experience one of these tragic losses ourselves, we more than likely will know someone who will. With this awareness, how can we support them through this loss?
There are No Words
In situations like these it can feel so awkward because there are literally no words you can say to make it better. So say that. Let them know how loved they are and how incredibly sorry you are, but that you know there are no words that will be able to take away the pain they are feeling. Sometimes silence, tears, and a heartfelt hug are healing in themselves.
Don’t Use Words
Actions have always spoken louder than words, and especially in cases like these. Show up for them if they ask you to be there, but don’t wait to be asked for a favorite treat, meal, or to take the kids to give them a break. Maybe flowers or a small piece of jewelry in remembrance of their lost little one would be a way to show your love. If they want company, be there. Be a shoulder to cry on or a person to do the dishes. Make sure they are ready or want people in their home. Sometimes this can be overwhelming so gauge the situation.
Listen to Their Words
Sometimes in our nervousness of not knowing what to say we say too much or don’t let someone speak. In a situation like this, if you are their trusted confidant talking about what they are going through may be a source of comfort for them. Make sure you are listening and not overtaking the conversation. If they want to talk about their little one, encourage it--use their baby’s name and ask questions.
In other words, show love however you can. This type of loss won't heal easily on its own, or it may never heal fully, but going through it alone can be devastating. The beauty of having a whole month dedicated to this specific kind of heartbreak is it may ensure that those going through it will get the support they need and know they are not alone.
For more pregnancy and infant info go to babycubby.com.