Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day – an incredibly hard and painful day for millions. The loss of a little one, born or unborn, is something I hope never to experience. Having never experienced it, I feel I have no right to write about it. I will not speculate about how those women feel, where their babies are, what they look like. I will not tell those women that everything will be okay. I will not give them an acceptable way to mourn or tell them the way they are mourning is unacceptable. This is a personal day, not for me or anyone else to encroach upon. And it’s not just this day. It’s every day.
A website devoted to the commemoration of this day states its mission as follows: “To diligently work with local, state and national leaders to obtain a National Day of Remembrance recognizing the need for community education and awareness when a family loses a child to miscarriage, stillbirth, and/or neonatal death. While promoting the need for openness, understanding and compassion during a family’s time of grief and most importantly, allowing those who wish, to remember these children who we now hold dear.” [sic]
This is a mission statement I cannot argue – until its end. For whether or not a day was ever designated to commemorate these experiences, those children and those fetuses were always held dear.
Whether you believe they are waiting in heaven or hold no hope of ever seeing them, if you lost a child – planned or unplanned, during pregnancy or after birth – you are the only one who knows how you feel about it. Your pain is not less or more than anyone else’s. It’s simply more personal. It is a day set aside for women and families to mourn, but many of those women and families mourn everyday. There is no way to quantify a sadness such as this, for it is different for everybody, and everybody is entitled to remember today in their own way, even if that way is not remembering. As we all take a moment today to recognize the bravery of those who have lost a little one, we must remember not to intrude on their personal feelings, mourning style, or loss.
There is no competition here for whose story is saddest. There is no requirement to imagine a lost baby as an angel any more than there is to remember him or her as a heartbeat on an ultrasound.
To everyone who has lost a child in any way, I am so sorry for your loss, but not just today, everyday. And I will never claim to understand.
There is very little we know about these children, but we know they are loved. And that is more powerful than any candle.