Written by: Samantha Rouse, LPCA
This month is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month: recognizing the loss of a baby through miscarriage, stillbirth, or SIDS. 1 in 4 women have experienced some kind of pregnancy or infant loss, which means that it has probably happened to you or someone you love.
Many times, family and friends struggle with what to say or do when someone they love experiences a pregnancy or infant loss. People try to say things that they think might be helpful but are often harmful and cause the mother to become even more saddened. Some examples of these are:
“You can always have another one.”
“At least you know you can get pregnant.”
“There probably would have been something wrong with it.”
“It’s all part of God’s plan.”
The best thing that you can do for a loved one is to be okay with the fact that they are not okay. They should not be in any rush to “move on” or “get over it.” The best and probably safest thing you can say is “I’m so sorry for your loss.” Whether the baby has been gone for one day, one year, or 20 years, call the baby by its name (if the baby was named). Allow the mother to talk about her baby and express the loss she feels. Yes, it is uncomfortable to listen to a mother talk about it, but there is nothing wrong with you feeling uncomfortable. The more you talk about it with her, the less uncomfortable you will be.
So why are we uncomfortable talking about things like the death of a baby? A big part of it is that people are expected to rush through their grief and move on quickly. Some mothers feel that they are not allowed to grieve, especially if it was a miscarriage. This silence that mothers are forced to have will lead to serious depression or other mental illness. It is very important that the mother be surrounded by people that support her the right way.
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month is not about finding a cure, it is about acknowledging the loss that so many women experience.
I am the face. I am the 1 in 4.
Break the Silence.
Visit www.october15th.com for more information and resources.
*****Samantha Rouse is a Mental Health Therapist in Elizabethtown, Ky, and a doctoral student at Lindsey Wilson College with research focused on mothers who have experienced stillbirth. Samantha’s son, William, was born still in 2007, and she now has two living daughters.