And What You Can Do to Honor Your Child’s Memory
Every year, thousands of couples hope to grow their family through adoption. But we know that for many of them, adoption was not their initial plan — nor was their path to adoption the easiest.
That’s why October is such an important month for those that have lost the most precious thing in their life — a child. First recognized in 1988 by Ronald Reagan, October is officially known as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. And in 2002, the organization Remembering Our Babies, founded by Robyn Bear and Lisa Brown, petitioned for October 15 to be designated as the official date for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.
To mark this occasion, the International Wave of Light is held to commemorate the loss of all infants due to a miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS and other causes. Whether it’s by a candlelight vigil or another method, there are many ways to commemorate the loss of a baby and celebrate their memory.
Acknowledge Your Grief and Remember Your Loss
Making peace with infertility doesn’t mean that you’ve forgotten about your experiences. When a couple loses a child, it can feel easier to stifle their pain in front of family and friends.
It can seem easier to handle this burden alone — but hiding your experience will make it even harder to get the emotional help you need. Talking about your loss with a trained professional, like a local counselor or a doctor, can help make the experience easier.
The grief that you experience won’t vanish after one counseling session. Coming to terms with infertility will be a lifelong journey and will often feel like an emotional rollercoaster. While it’s easy to become overwhelmed with sadness, being gentle with yourself is the most important thing you can do on this day.
Encourage Conversations about Infertility
After such a deep loss, couples who have lost a child can have a hard time expressing how it has continued to affect them. People often grieve with us when we lose a sibling, a parent, or a friend, but when we lose a child we may have never met, it feels even harder to come to terms with. And when you tell your experience to friends and family, they often don’t know what to say.
They might accidently end up saying the wrong thing, and throw insensitive comments your way. Phrases like, “At least it was early on” and, “You can still have more children, don’t worry” often make the situation worse.
That’s why this day is so important in our conversations about infertility. Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day was created as a way for families and friends to get a better understanding of what couples that have experienced infertility are going through.
Having open conversations about our experiences with infertility can help lessen the stigma. Encouraging positive comments in response to infertility is a great way to have a positive dialogue. The more people that know about this day, the closer we can get to a place of understanding.
Spend this Day with the People that Love You and Reach Out to Your Community
Your journey through parenthood will be one the greatest experiences, but it can be tough to focus on the positives after experiencing infertility. When we go through a heartbreaking experience, the best thing we can do is spend time with the people that care about us. You may find comfort in spending this day with friends and family members who are supportive of your parenting dreams and understanding of the loss you’ve faced.
Some couples also choose to honor this day is by donating to infertility charities. Giving back to your community is a great way to honor your child’s memory and connect with others that have shared your experience.
Reach Out to Those That Have Had Similar Experiences
Remember, you’re never alone.
Many couples have experienced the tragic loss of a child before pursuing an adoption, but not many of them feel that they’re ready to talk about it.
Often, our first response to a traumatic experience can be to close in on ourselves. But if you have experienced a miscarriage or infertility before your adoption, you may not know that there’s a whole community of couples that have been through the same experiences.
For more information and suggestions on how to commemorate this day, you can visit the Remembering Our Babies site. You might also decide to reach out to infertility support groups in your area. Even though you’ll be meeting them for the first time, this will be a chance to connect with others who have also struggled with growing their families biologically, and you may also meet other adoptive families in your support groups trying to find others just like them.