October is a month of crinkling leaves, warm wool socks, and overpriced pumpkin coffee drinks. It’s a month of change, and brings us jovially into the fall season.
For some of us, though, October is a month to remember a loss. The entire month of October has been deemed pregnancy and infant loss awareness month since 1988, and is marked with images of pink and blue.
Around fourteen years ago, October 15th was singled out as a day to be dedicated to remembrance, a day to shine a Wave of Light on the darkness of loss.
If you aren’t a loss parent, or someone who knows one, you might not know the significance of this day, and what it means to those of us who light our candles. Here are some things you need to know about this very important day.
We Fear Our Losses Are Forgotten
Whether it was an early pregnancy loss, a stillbirth or the untimely death of an infant, the parents hold a cold fear that their baby will only be remembered by them. As time moves on and wounds heal, many people forget to talk about the children that aren’t here.
October 15th is an opportunity for parents to share the memory of their children with the world, and it’s a wonderful time to let them know that you remember their loss, too.
If you have a friend or family member who shares a memory on October 15th, use this time to let them know that you’ll hold that memory in your heart with them.
It’s Not Easy To Talk About
Pregnancy and infant loss are incredibly hard to talk about, both because of the enormous grief and the cultural stigmas. There’s no magic wand that makes these topics easier to talk about on October 15th, but at least it’s a day dedicated to trying.
Sometimes a grieving parent might share just a picture of a lit candle, with no explanation. Sometimes it’s just a name and a date, to mark their birth or passing. Sometimes it’s a whole essay or blog post.
Each one takes courage to be so open to the world, and each one is a parent baring their pain to the world in the most vulnerable way.
Acknowledge this and treat it with respect.
A Wave of Light Is About Togetherness
If I do nothing at all, the memory of my baby lives on in my heart. If I light a candle by myself, that single ray of light shines for me. But when one candle becomes two, and two become ten, and ten join a thousand, the fires of those candles become a roaring wave of light that can’t be ignored.
When we grieve alone, we’re just that--alone. When we join our lights together and remember as a community, we remind ourselves that we’re truly not alone. There are millions of people affected by pregnancy and infant loss, and we’re in this together.
Your Words Matter
We know it’s hard to talk about. So often, it’s hard for the parents of loss to bring it up on their own, let alone expecting others to broach the topic. Pregnancy and infant loss are tragically surrounded in shame, and we know that it’s not an easy stigma to shatter.
So when you do say something, it means the world.
“I’m so sorry for your loss.”
“Your baby won’t be forgotten.”
“I’m here if you want to talk.”
They’re such simple sentences, but they take a lot of courage to say. We know that, so when you step up and open yourself to talking about loss, you become a part of the solution. You become a part of our healing.
October 15th can easily be a day of awkwardness and silence, when those of us who choose to openly remember our lost babies share our candles with the world. But you have the chance to make it a day of change, a day of love and a day of healing.
This Saturday, let’s choose love.
Don't Talk About the Baby is the first documentary film to explore the culture of shame and silence surrounding pregnancy loss and infertility. This film has been entirely crowdfunded and is currently in post production, with a goal of release in summer 2017. Learn more here and help us finish here!