October 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. Today, we’d like to offer information on ways to cope with an infant loss, tips for how you can support a loved one, and resources for all of your unanswered questions. Whether you’re a family member looking for ways to support your loved one, or a hopeful parent trying to find ways to cope, here are some things that you should know.
Remember that we see you and your struggles — and that you are not alone.
How to Cope as a Hopeful Parent
There is no “proper” timeline when it comes to healing, and every experience will be different. If you’re grieving a sudden loss, understand that this will be a lifelong journey. In the meantime, we’ve offered a few ways to cope during this difficult time.
- Join a support group: There are many types of support groups that can helpful during the grieving process. Knowing that you’re not alone can help ease the pain that you’re feeling.
- Share your story: One of the best ways to heal from your loss is to talk about it. If you feel comfortable, you might share your experience with pregnancy and infant loss. Your story may even strike a chord with someone else.
- Accept your feelings: The anger, guilt and grief that you’re experiencing is unlikely to ever go away. But, accepting that what you’re feeling is normal can help. If it gets too difficult, don’t forget that you can always reach out to an adoption counselor or therapist when you need someone to talk to.
Supporting a Loved One Through This Healing
It’s hard to watch someone you care about in pain. Thankfully, if you’re a family member or a close friend, there are many small ways that you can help. Below are five tips for supporting someone you care about today:
- Be careful with your words: Even if you’re trying to be comforting, your words can do more harm than good. Avoid phrases like “Everything happens for a reason,” or “At least it happened early.” These phrases can be extremely painful to hear — especially from a family member or a friend. Instead, use phrases like “I’m so sorry for your loss,” and “Take as long as you need” to show your support.
- Take the initiative: Grief is exhausting. If someone is experiencing a loss, they’re not going to have the emotional strength to do much of anything. But, if you can offer any assistance, you’ll be helping in more ways than you know. Bring over food if they’re not able to make it to the grocery store or run their errands for them. Anything you can do helps lift a huge weight off their shoulders.
- Acknowledge their feelings: Saying something is better than saying nothing at all. It may be hard, but your friend still wants you to recognize what they’re going through. Small gestures can go a long way towards showing how much you care.
- Show them how much they mean to you: Your loved one is probably feeling incredibly alone right now. They might not even know how to reach out, or if they do, how to bring up the topic. One of the best things that you can do is be proactive in showing how much you care. Although your loved one might not have the energy to respond right away, knowing that someone is there for them can bring them a sense of comfort. You can send a text, make a phone call, or even write a handwritten card. All of these are great ways to show how much you mean to them.
- Be patient: One of the best things that you can do to support them is to just be there. This is no such thing as “getting over” a loss as painful as this one. Even if you don’t understand what they’re going through, you can still ease their burden with your presence.
Helpful Resources for Parents and Loved Ones
Depending on where you or your loved one is at in the grieving process, you might be looking for some additional information. Below, we’ve compiled a list of resources for families going through the grieving process and loved ones who wish to help:
- Share Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support
- Grieve Out Loud
- Remembering Our Babies
- The Compassionate Friends
Commemorate Your Loss
One of the best ways to participate in Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day is through the International Wave of Light. To remember all babies lost to miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS and newborn death, you can leave a candle burning for an hour starting at 7 p.m. in your respective time zone. Of course, you should only commemorate your loss in a way that feels right for you. There are other ways to honor and remember your loss that might be a better option for your family.
If you’re ever looking for someone to talk to, you can always reach out to a kind grief counselor or therapist.