Everlasting Memories Blog About Life, Loss and Everything In Between
Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
Hard to believe that today is mid-October. Like legit we are halfway through the month - plus a day...but you follow me. Leaves have all started turning, sprinkler systems are being shut down, pumpkins and mums and corn stalks decorate the porches of houses, crisp and cool fall air. And apple cider donuts have become a weekly must have. I am enjoying the cooler nights and the beautiful colors of my most favorite season and breathing it all in.
October is significant for other reasons that I have touched on this month - breast cancer awareness. I personally believe that however we can go about bringing awareness and anything that will help raise funds to further research and help find a cure for this rotten disease - this girl is all in! And as we approach the downside of the month, I encourage you to do what you can to support breast cancer awareness whether it’s by donating a few dollars, reaching out to a friend that is a survivor, being there in support of a friend or family that is currently going through treatment, taking part in some sort of fundraising, etc. That show of support - financially, physically, emotionally - it’s crucial in so many ways.
But today I want to touch on something else. Today, October 15, 2018, it’s an important day in the lives of many families. A day of remembering, often a day of tears. A day of reflection. What-if’s. How come’s. Why me’s. Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. And I have people in my life that will be in my thoughts on this day in particular. So I write this for you, for your families, for your babies.
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance (PAIL)
President Ronald Regan established the month of October as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness on October 25, 1988. Three women joined forces in 2002 and petitioned the federal government to establish October 15 as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day and it was passed in the House of Representatives in 2006. Today, it is observed in the US, Canada and other countries around the world.
National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance day serves as a day of remembrance for pregnancy loss and infant death. This includes miscarriages, stillbirths, death of a newborn, SIDS, etc. The day is also a show of support for families that have experienced loss and increase awareness about pregnancy and infant loss. Additionally, it raises awareness as to how as individuals and as a community we can help parents and families that have experienced loss.
Importance of PAIL
Loss is one of the touchy subjects that receives not a lot of attention - especially loss through miscarriages, stillbirth, early pregnancy, etc. Hard to talk about, knowing what to say, what not to say, how to help, what to do. By raising awareness, creating programs and support groups, reaching out to others that are grieving, we can better assist those individuals or families in their times of need. Because of lot of parents don’t know where to turn when the unexpected happens.
I gathered a few facts and was staggered by the numbers.
10% of pregnancies end in early pregnancy loss. Early pregnancy loss is loss that occurs in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy. There are other resources that term this as a miscarriage and defines it as a loss before the 20th week.
1% of pregnancies ends in stillbirth. That’s about 1 out of every 100. A stillbirth is a loss of a baby at 20 weeks or later. Most causes of stillbirths are unknown.
SIDS is the leading cause of death among babies from 1 month to 1 year.
Statistically, over 4,000 infants die in the United States every year.
1 in 4 pregnancies ends in loss.
I could go on but the numbers are not pleasant to look at and, as a mother and a parent, you realize what a miracle birth truly is.
How Can You Help
There are so many ways in which we can give support to those that are in need. Ways in which we can reach out and be there for families, for parents. Showing that support is so important and no matter the day of remembrance, it’s a memory that they never escape from. It’s their new version of normal.
Make a phone call, send a text, a social media message heart. Something, anything to let them know they are thought of. And not just today but on the due date, the date of the loss, an anniversary that is an ordinary day to us but not so much to them.
Reach out to your church, your local crisis center and see if there are mothers in need - diapers, stuffed animals, formula, blankets. There are countless organizations that you can donate to financially that help fund research for SIDS, create care packages for families that have experienced loss, provide grief packets for hospitals, etc. Your donations do make a difference.
Light a candle.
At 7:00 pm this evening local time, participants around the world will join in the Wave of Light. The candles are lit in memory of the babies that have died and they say that if the candles are lit for at least an hour, a wave of light will rise around the world for the day. Love the concept and the meaning behind it.
Ask and remember.
A common request I have heard is that you ask, you talk, you remember the loss. Parents don’t want their baby to be forgotten. Miscarriages are heart breaking. I’m not saying fire off questions like you’re at an interview but also don’t say nothing for fear of not knowing what to say. Gentle questions or compassionate conversation can be healing to the parents and the families that have experienced loss.
Walk to Remember.
These annual events take place all over the US throughout the year and many are hosted in October. The nationwide events attract tens of thousands of participants and serve as a way for families to remember their loved one. It’s a wonderful way to show support and continue to raise awareness.
PAIL My World
I personally have never experienced a pregnancy loss or the loss of an infant. And after what I read today, I am slapped by the reality of what a blessing, a miracle, a gift having a child is. Even with the technological advances we have nowadays, the research, the science, the knowledge we have, those numbers have not decreased that significantly. But I am grateful for whatever decline we see.
To the families in my life that I know have experienced loss, I think of you today and your children, your families. To those families and the countless others that I don’t know but maybe came across this post, I am so profoundly sorry for your loss - the loss of life, the loss of memories not made, the loss of siblings for your children and the countless other moments that we take for granted. There simply are no words.
Increase your sensitivity. Loss is so real and as parents, as families, as people - it is a singular journey that alters the course of your entire life that I don’t wish on anyone. And not knowing what to say is not an excuse to say or do nothing. Reach out and find ways to help. Even if it’s just bringing by some cookies, a hot coffee, a bottle of wine, a card or note or text that says I care. Light a candle for them tonight at 7:00 p.m. Those little things can make a big difference because gone does not mean forgotten.
Angels watch me through the night
And wake me with the morning light
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