Do you take part in Pregnancy, Infant, and Child Loss Awareness Month? Each October, I do my best to help raise awareness about pregnancy loss and its associated issues, but when I lost my mother in May, I honestly wasn’t sure that I wanted to do it this year. I kept having this one crazy thought: You have to get it together before October rolls around because you do not want to be grieving your mom and your babies at the same time. For some reason, I thought I had to keep my grief over my mom and the grief over my miscarriages separate. They were both so important that I was sure that thinking about both losses simultaneously would overwhelm me. Somehow in my mind, I couldn’t raise awareness while heavily grieving.
Now that it is officially October, I still want to help raise awareness.
Are you also wondering if you want to be a part of the events near you? If it is your desire to take part, but you are still unsure, I want to first say that not taking part is a valid and accurate choice. You would still be a valuable and contributing member of the community. But here are a few thoughts I had on why I think I would choose to take part in Pregnancy, Infant, and Child Loss Awareness Month:
I am acknowledging that we can feel more than one thing at a time.
Just like you can be happy and nervous at the same time, we acknowledge that we can experience more than one type of grief at the same time. Maybe we lost more than one person this year, or we lost a job and our child. Perhaps we are grieving the loss of our innocence along with our baby. We have always had the capacity to experience more than one thing at a time, so why should this be any exception? You can grieve and be hopeful about the message of Pregnancy, Infant, and Child Loss Awareness month. You can grieve and still choose to support someone else in their grief. You can grieve and still share your story. And you can feel to take part one year and not take part the following year.
I am remembering what this month is about.
I know it can be hard to see beyond grief, but there is so much more to this month than just how we grieve. We raise awareness so that we can raise funds, help impact legislation, provide support to others, inform policy and workplace cultures, generate discussions and give a voice to those who cannot yet speak for themselves. Pregnancy, Infant, and Child Loss Awareness Month may be recognized every October but its effect is felt every time someone remembers to be sensitive and kind, a colleague or family member mentions your baby by name, or a woman pregnant after loss speaks up at the doctor’s office.
I am giving ourselves permission to sit it out altogether if we need to.
Like you, I will try my best to meet all commitments this month. I’ll attend as many functions as possible, share as many posts as possible, and do all that I can. But should I ever need to, I already give myself permission to sit this year out. And I offer you the same. I know the work is important, and you are trying your best to do what is needed, but should you need to, I give you permission to sit it all out as well. I hope you can give yourself the same grace. The message of Pregnancy, Infant, and Child Loss Awareness month is so much bigger than you or me and will continue on even if we are unable to. We belong to a community that is alive and working hard. So none of it falls on your shoulders alone.
I am looking for the helpers.
Mr. Rogers said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” This is something I have always loved doing, looking out for the brave women and men spreading awareness and sharing their lives. Many of them can be found right here in our own PALS community. When my grief hurt the most, I turned to them and their words. They were a lifeline when I needed them. Supporting these helpers in our community is a great way of ensuring the message gets where it needs to go. Listening to, liking, sharing, and supporting others in their efforts to raise awareness is a great way to support PAIL Awareness month without doing too much.
I can share my story with just one person.
Not ready to share with the world? That’s perfectly OK. Instead, try telling your story to one friend or even one stranger. Find one person and share with them what PAIL Awareness means to you and how you have lived as a loss parent. To that one person, your story could help really humanize pregnancy loss and impact the way they interact with another loss parent in the future.
Whether you choose to take part or not you are a valuable member of the loss community, and we are all made better by your presence. My wish for this month is that you grieve exactly as you need to. Your genuine expression of grief is exactly what we need. I am wishing you a gentle October, however you choose to spend it.
- Learn more and participate in PALS’ campaign for October’s Pregnancy, Infant, and Child Loss Awareness Month
- Life After Loss: Remembering a Baby Who Died by Performing Simple Acts of Kindness in his Memory
- 9 Ways to Honor Pregnancy, Infant, & Child Loss Awareness Month while Pregnant or Parenting After Loss
- For Loss Parents, Pregnancy, Infant, and Child Loss Awareness doesn’t end on November 1st
- What You Should Know About Pregnancy, Infant, and Child Loss: A Grief That Changes You Forever
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