While October is known as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, July has been recognized as Bereaved Parent's Month, a time to advocate for and raise awareness of one’s life after the loss of their child. But we the bereaved still don’t feel nearly seen enough. Most don't realize such a date/honor exists until it directly effects their life.
The efforts bereaved parents use to create a certain level of transparency in our grief goes unnoticed by the general public because of taboos and stigmas. One that’s better off not to dwell on because it’s uncomfortable and heartbreaking. It’s the kind of cause that’s only mentioned when another parent is forced to join the throes of it’s unfortunate hold. Even then, you’re only truly remembered for as long as the funeral.
Grief extends beyond those immediate moments following the mass destruction of our lives. It’s our shadow, if you will, and we wish you could understand us without having to become us.
Here are some things bereaved parents want you to know:
We are aware our baby is gone - saying their name makes us happy, NOT sad
There is a misconception that acknowledging someone's loss will inflict additional pain and strife. What we can tell you is the opposite is true! Hearing our sweet child's name out of the lips of someone we love brings a flutter to our heart that helps us heal. We cannot bring them back. You cannot bring them back. Acknowledging the life and love of a child, no matter how short their lives are, makes grieving softer because you are helping to create and maintain a space for them in our lives and homes as we parent them from beyond the grave.
We are still parents!
This is particularly challenging for the outside world to see if we lose our first born or have no other children at home. The crisis of identity that occurs in this grief is unique. Am I a mom/dad? How do I still parent and love a baby that is no longer here? What do I say when people ask me how many children I have?
Parenting from beyond the grave is a real and unfortunate thing
Just because a baby's life ends physically, a parents need to parent them is inherent. Additionally, it grows just as they would have on earth. It is through parenting from beyond the grave, that we too also grow. This can be done through an annual memorial event, doing charity work in their name or starting a legacy project through Three Little Birds that shares their love and turns their energy and memory into advocacy to support other families.
While our grief is unique, we are not.
Pregnancy and infant loss effects one in every four families trying to build their family. Additionally, one in every eight couples struggle with traditional family planning. Millions of people are stricken by loss and the aftermath of figuring out what comes next. While we only know what it is like to lose our baby, we know the heartache others face. Because it effects more than 25% of the population, we would like to normalize the conversation that this is a reality for so many and the taboos around these experiences need to be eliminated.
Small but meaningful ways you can support others -
If you know someone who has lost a child, you can brighten their day and lift their spirit through a few small, but meaningful acts:
Send a card/text - A simple "I'm thinking about you and family and feel your baby's love and spirit everyday. A random, unexpected acknowledgment of our experience means the world!
Allow the parent to talk - We may not be complaining about sleepless nights in the same way we imagined, but we need support still
Three Little Birds' mission is to #shatterthestigma of pregnancy and infant loss. Acknowledgments like these, Bereaved Parents Month/Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, globally allow others to see the experiences of so many, which have always been hushed or silenced by others who lacked the ability to understand. Please join us in supporting families in a healthy way by allowing them the space and grace of sharing their stories and keeping their loved one's memory alive!