Every year, on October 15th, the world observes Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. It’s a day dedicated to acknowledging the pain and heartache experienced by countless families due to the loss of a pregnancy or an infant. While this topic remains a deeply personal and often silent struggle for many, it’s essential to shed light on the realities of pregnancy and infant loss to offer support, understanding, and hope to those affected.

Pregnancy and infant loss are often shrouded in silence and stigma. Families who go through these devastating experiences often feel isolated, unable to share their grief openly, and grappling with a whirlwind of emotions. The pain is profound, and the journey towards healing is a complex one.

“Supporting those who have lost a baby or pregnancy requires love, patience, and understanding, for in their sorrow lies the strength to heal, and in your compassion, they find solace.” Louise Brazier, Bereavement Services Coordinator with the NSMHPCN stated, “Sometimes, the greatest support you can offer is not in the words you say, but in the presence you provide. In the quiet moments of grief, be the gentle shoulder to lean on, the compassionate heart to share in their pain, and the unwavering support that helps them find strength in the midst of their loss.”

The Pregnancy and Infant Loss of North Simcoe Muskoka (PILO NSM), a program of the North Simcoe Muskoka Hospice Palliative Care Network (NSMHPCN), brings the community together to create a safe and supportive network of resources for families who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss.

Pregnancy and infant loss can take various forms, including but not limited to:

  • Miscarriage: This occurs when a pregnancy ends before the 20th week, and it’s estimated that about 10-15% of pregnancies end in miscarriage
  • Stillbirth: A stillbirth is the loss of a baby after 20 weeks of pregnancy, but before birth. The grief experienced by parents is immeasurable.
  • Neonatal Death: This refers to the loss of a baby within the first 28 days of life. It can be due to a range of factors, from congenital conditions to premature birth.
  • Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID): SUID is the sudden, unexplained death of an otherwise healthy infant.

The first step in addressing pregnancy and infant loss is breaking the silence that surrounds it. Families who experience these losses need a safe space to share their feelings, fears, and pain. Friends, family members, and communities must provide this support without judgment or discomfort.

When someone you know experiences pregnancy or infant loss, here are ways to provide meaningful support:

  • Listen: Sometimes, the most powerful support is a listening ear. Let grieving parents share their feelings without trying to fix things.
  • Empathize, Don’t Compare: Avoid phrases like “I know how you feel” or comparing their loss to others. Every loss is unique, and each person’s grief is different.
  • Offer Practical Help: Grieving parents often struggle with everyday tasks. Offer to cook meals, run errands, or help with childcare if they have other children.
  • Remember Anniversaries: Acknowledge important dates like the due date or the anniversary of the loss. It shows that you care and remember their pain.
  • Respect Their Choices: Everyone grieves differently. Some parents may want to talk openly about their loss, while others may prefer privacy. Respect their choices.

“Lighting candles, wearing pink and blue ribbons, and participating in memorial events are common ways people observe Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day,” Brazier stated. “It serves as a reminder that those who have experienced such losses are not alone, and there are resources and communities available to provide comfort and understanding during their difficult journey.”

Raising awareness about pregnancy and infant loss is crucial for several reasons:

  • Reducing Stigma: Awareness campaigns help reduce the stigma surrounding these losses, allowing families to openly discuss their experiences and seek support.
  • Providing Resources: Awareness efforts connect grieving families with resources, support groups, and counselling services that can aid in their healing process.
  • Encouraging Research: Increased awareness can lead to more research and understanding of the causes and prevention of pregnancy and infant loss.

Pregnancy and infant loss are profound tragedies that affect countless families worldwide. On Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, and every day, let us break the silence, show compassion, and offer support to those who have experienced these losses. By raising awareness and fostering a culture of empathy, we can make a difference in the lives of grieving parents and ensure that they don’t suffer in isolation but find solace in a compassionate community.

“On October 15th, the community is invited to join us for the International Wave of Light.” Brazier stated, “We will be hosting a small event at Bracebridge United Church. The doors will open at 6:30 pm, guests will be able to enjoy some light refreshments prior to our lighting of the candles at 7:00 pm.”

If you are unable to join the Wave of Light at the in-person event, please join us by lighting a candle at home. You can show your support by posting a photo of your candle using the following hashtags: #WaveofLight #PILONSM

To RSVP for the Wave of Light event please email Louise at louise@hospiceorillia.ca or call (705) 325-0505 ext. 209.For more information on the PILO NSM program, please visit https://hospiceorillia.ca/pilonsm/