In 1988 President Ronald Reagan declared October as a month to raise awareness for families who have walked through the grief of infant loss or pregnancy loss. This includes families who have experienced a death through miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS, prematurity, neonatal and postnatal death, or any other cause of loss during pregnancy or infancy.
Over 20 countries join in this observation together on October 15. This day is observed with remembrance ceremonies and candle-lighting vigils, concluding with the Lights of Love International Wave of Light™, a worldwide lighting of candles. The result of these candles is a continuous chain of light spanning and illuminating the globe for a 24-hour period in honor and remembrance of all the loved and longed for babies. *
It’s difficult to sometimes know what to do or what to say to those who are grieving this type of loss. The death of a baby can often leave a mother to slowly isolate or feel like no one else understands. There are many ways we can try and uplift our friends, family, and community who are grieving in this way.
Here are a few ideas to show your love to those grieving the death of a pregnancy or infant:
- Join in on October 15 to a locally organized candle ceremony. Or simply light a candle in your home at 7pm (your local time zone). Leave it burning for at least 1 hour to join in worldwide in remembering all the babies that have died too soon.
- Drop off a meal to your friend or offer to stay and eat together. You know your friend the most, would he/she appreciate the company?
- Set up and coordinate a care calendar for people to help with meals for as long as the family needs it.
- Ask your friend if they’re comfortable with talking about the baby. Sometimes it’s healing to open up about it, to say the baby’s name, and to talk about the love and hope they had for that child. Take their lead on how much or how little they want to talk about it.
- Make a donation to a respected organization in the baby’s name.
- Encourage the parents to find a baby loss support group or a miscarriage support group. Help them do the research of local groups if they’re not up for the task. When they’re ready, it can be healing to be around other people who understand their pain and have walked through the same journey.
- Send a card at random times to remind the family you are thinking about them or praying for them.
- Be specific in your questions when asking what you can help with. It may be hard for some people to know what would be helpful during this season. Do they need groceries picked up? If they have other children, can you do school pickup/drop-off for awhile to free up their time or maybe even babysit so they can have a date night? Would they want you to do yard work or any other household chores? Would they appreciate an invite to an event that you know of to help distract them for a little? I think we often assume that people will reach out and ask if they need help, but it may be helpful to let them say yes or no to specifics of what would be most needed during this time.
- Offer to help put together a memory box in honor of their baby. The memory box can include blankets, a poem, a hospital bracelet, ultrasound photos, or clothing.
- Be present. Be intentional. Be patient. Grief looks different for everyone. There is no timeline.
Don’t forget, those who are grieving the loss of a pregnancy or infant don’t just remember their grievances in October. The heartache and hurt is felt all year-round even as they begin to heal and time goes on. Let’s use October as a catalyst month to educate others but let’s have the ultimate goal to learn how to better love, care for, and embrace those parents all year round or the years to come. These babies will forever remain in the loving hearts of their parents.