October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. In recognition of this, I'd like to share some healthy ways we can honour and acknowledge loss.
To begin, let’s discuss one of the first reactions to loss, Grief. Unfortunately, Grief doesn't have a hard-stop date. It’s not something you can predict, shut off, or even control. It can resurface at any point in time, especially when reminders or triggers are present themselves.
One thing that can be comforting about grief is knowing it’s a reflection of your love for the life lost. This is also what makes grief so overwhelming, along with the permanency of it. The closer you were to the loss, the harder the grief can hit.
When you know a resurfacing or trigger may happen, try to remember these things:
Be prepared. Resurfacing grief is normal, turning them into opportunities for healing.
Plan a distraction. Plan some together-time with those you love, occupy your mind.
Reminisce about your relationship. This can be done out loud or in private. Try writing a letter to your missing loved one, and adding to it as you need.
Start a new tradition. From donations in your loved one's name on birthdays or holidays, to planting a tree in honour of them.
Allow yourself to feel a range of emotions, there’s not right & wrong.
Some people find it challenging to express their grief in healthy ways, here are a few options for honouring loss while still healing, specifically for Infant or pregnancy loss:
Name the Baby - Even if you never got the opportunity to meet your child in the physical world, or your time together was cut much too short, naming the life you weren't able to know can be healing. Angel Baby is a great term, but it’s also okay to have something more personal to hang onto.
Physical reminders - Jewelry, art, statues, handprint or fingerprint mementos, name-sakes, breastmilk stones, or stuffed animals. In 2022, there are countless beautiful ways to create a keepsake for lost loved ones. Momentos are very personal, and what one-person might find helpful and healing and be triggering for another. Decide what feels right for you, and turn to some sort of physical keep-sake for comfort.
For some beautiful ideas of what is possible, I suggest heading to Etsy (click here for ideas), or anywhere with handmade goods, and seeing what’s available & what feels right to you.
Donate in your baby’s name - Although your baby is physically gone, a legacy in their name can be made to increase awareness of pregnancy loss & infant loss, and can be validating in your grief. Their existence mattered, and your loss is very much real. There are countless organizations which aim to shed light on this type of loss, learn more about a few options here.
As I have said before, grief and loss are experienced differently from person to person. One thing that is typically helpful for those experiencing loss is knowing they are not alone, and there is a community for them. March of Dimes has a really great forum where men & women can share their unique stories of loss, premature births, experiences with birth defects, and healing. If you're interested, take a look here.