October is here again. For many people, the focus is fall, pumpkin spice everything, and Halloween. I love those things too, but October is more complicated for me. It’s Pregnancy, Infant, and Child Loss Awareness Month – a time of year I both dread and appreciate.
In the spirit of spreading awareness on what it’s like to be a family surviving after loss, here are five things we’ll be doing.
1. Participating in the Wave of Light
On Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day (October 15), we light candles at 7:00pm, surrounded by pictures of Oberon, my son who died. We encourage our friends and family to participate as well.
2. Attending a local Service of Remembrance
Our local support group – HAND – hosts a Service of Remembrance every October. It’s an emotional day, but it’s always good to get together with other families who get it. There are songs played, poetry readings, and the names of our babies are read aloud. Afterwards, we go outside for a dove release followed by a potluck meal. Children are welcome, but most play quietly in the back of the room or go outside if they are too young to stay quiet. I always struggle with whether to bring my living children – who are usually supposed to be napping and very wound up. I bring them though, because it’s important to me that they see grief and loss are a part of our family, and we are not alone.
3. Engaging with Capture Your Grief
Capture Your Grief is a project to document and share your grief experience through photos and captions on social media. There are daily prompts that vary from the specific (Child of Mine) to the abstract (Creative Heart) and encourage me to process where I am in my grief journey. Dedicating time each day to Oberon feels right more often than not this month, and so long as that stays true I will continue participating.
4. Reading more books about loss, grief, and Oberon
Sometimes we struggle with when we should pull out the books on grief, loss, healing, and Oberon. This month, it feels top of mind and we choose these books more often. It isn’t fair to talk about Oberon with our living children without giving them opportunities and language to talk about it.
5. Eating a lot of ice cream
We will take time this month for self-care. We have to. After October come November and December – two months full of obligations and for us, anniversaries. October can’t wipe out all of our emotional energy, so we have to balance our grief work with our day-to-day work and reserving something for the future. Take care of yourselves this month. If you need to step back, step back. If you need to lean in, lean in.
At the end of the day, Pregnancy, Infant, and Child Loss Awareness Month is an opportunity to share our children and our grief with the world. But it isn’t a mandate. If it doesn’t feel right to participate in any events or campaigns, then don’t let guilt drive you to do so. You can share about your child at any time, you don’t need the permission of an Awareness Month. On the flip side, if it feels good to express yourself alongside so many other grieving families, then please don’t let anything stop you.