Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Miscarriages, stillbirths, infant losses and even abortions are weighing on the hearts of women and families, including my own. We light candles, we remember, we cry – quietly – but rarely do we talk about these very real losses.
I thought the subject of grief always felt taboo, but grieving the loss of a baby is hushed to another degree. As with any grief, but amplified, it makes people feel so sad that they feel uncomfortable and don’t know what to say, so they would rather not hear about it. Some people even feel that a miscarriage ‘doesn’t count’ because the baby wasn’t ‘here’ yet, or sometimes, 'wasn’t even formed' in the womb.
But the thing is, for many of us, we are mothers the moment we see a positive pregnancy test. We feel bonded to our growing baby, we talk to them, we dream about our family, and imagine our lives with our fragile little bundle in our arms. The loss of that baby is as big a loss as any other death of a loved one. I heard someone describe it as a loss of your future, rather than a loss of your past – but a real and valid loss nonetheless.
When someone we love dies, we talk about it, have funerals, hold memorials, reminisce, and receive heartfelt condolences. And even though we’re expected to move on the next day (which is not okay, at all), at least we have our loss and grief acknowledged, albeit for a moment.
But those of us who have lost babies have to whisper about it, or think silently about it, or pretend we’re happy or have moved on so that other people don’t feel uncomfortable about the sombre energy emanating from us.
The one place we have to turn for solace is towards other people who have experienced a similar loss. But who are they? How would we know, unless they're talking about it? Once you share the loss of a baby, the number of women and families who come out of the woodwork talking about their own losses is immense. This just speaks to how many people are actually suffering in silence.
For people who already have children, and then lose a baby, or for those who have chosen to terminate their pregnancy for whatever reason, their loss isn’t lesser than that of someone who is painfully trying to have a baby they want. These losses are completely different, and will come with different emotions, but a loss is a loss. Yet, these women are sometimes resented by other people in the community of women who have lost babies—alienating them from the only real sanctuary there is.
So today, I remember my three angel babies—while also feeling tremendously blessed for the beautiful, precious blessing of my living daughter. And I reach out to hold the hands of the rest of you who have suffered such a loss.
My prayer is that women and families feel able to share their feelings, acknowledge their losses and their identities as mothers or fathers (or even siblings), remember their sleeping children, celebrate them, or grieve in whatever way feels right for them—without feeling ashamed about it.