Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. The fact that there is an entire month dedicated to raising awareness and honoring this experience and grief is both a beautiful and heartbreaking testament to just how many families face pregnancy and infant loss. In October, awareness looks like shedding light on the statistics for miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death, and SIDS. It looks like normalizing the experience of the parents and validating their need and right to share their story.

While the month of October is about awareness and resources surrounding pregnancy and infant loss, October 15th is observed as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. This day is about pausing to hold space for the babies whose lives ended too soon. It is about entering in and remembering the parents, their love for their child, and their desire to honor that baby.

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day are important and significant observations for grieving parents. Whether you are a grieving parent or a friend or family member supporting a grieving parent, Carrying To Term is here to support you in October and remember you on October 15th.

In this post, you will find information about the history and significance of both Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day as well as suggestions for observing Remembrance Day as a parent or friend or family member.


Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day are important and significant observations for grieving parents. Whether you are a grieving parent or a friend or family member supporting a grieving parent, Carrying To Term is here to support you in October and remember you on October 15th.

History

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month was declared on October 25, 1988 via Proclamation 5890 by then president Ronald Reagan. He said:

 

“Each year, approximately a million pregnancies in the United States end in miscarriage, stillbirth, or the death of the newborn child. National observance of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, 1988, offers us the opportunity to increase our understanding of the great tragedy involved in the deaths of unborn and newborn babies. It also enables us to consider how, as individuals and communities, we can meet the needs of bereaved parents and family members and work to prevent causes of these problems.

Health care professionals recognize that trends of recent years, such as smaller family size and the postponement of childbearing, adds another dimension of poignance to the grief of parents who have lost infants. More than 700 local, national, and international support groups are supplying programs and strategies designed to help parents cope with their loss. Parents who have suffered their own losses, health care professionals, and specially trained hospital staff members are helping newly bereaved parents deal constructively with loss.

Compassionate Americans are also assisting women who suffer bereavement, guilt, and emotional and physical trauma that accompany post-abortion syndrome. We can and must do a much better job of encouraging adoption as an alternative to abortion; of helping the single parents who wish to raise their babies; and of offering friendship and temporal support to the courageous women and girls who give their children the gifts of life and loving adoptive parents. We can be truly grateful for the devotion and concern provided by all of these citizens, and we should offer them our cooperation and support as well.

The Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 314, has designated the month of October 1988 as "Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month" and authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of this month.

Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the month of October 1988 as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. I call upon the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fifth day of October, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirteenth.” [1]

 

On October 25, 1988, former President Reagan is also quoted as saying, “When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them.” [2]

While the proclamation only officially recognized October 1988 as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, the community of grieving parents has continued to observe and honor the month each year in the spirit of President Reagan’s words.

In 2002, Robyn Bear, Lisa Brown, and Tammy Novak started a campaign to have October 15th recognized annually as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. After petitioning the federal government and the governors of all 50 states, 20 states recognized their efforts by signing proclamations designating October 15th as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. On September 28, 2006, the House of Representatives passed Concurrent Resolution 222 in support of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.

Since 2016, all 50 of the United States recognize October 15th. Since then, other countries such as Canada, Australia, and Italy have begun their own campaigns to have October 15th officially recognized as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. [3]


When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them.
— Ronald Reagan

Significance

Grieving parents do not need a designated or recognized day to remember the baby they grieve. Every day of every month of every year provides ample opportunity to remember, love, and grieve the child they lost in pregnancy or after birth. Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day is not significant because it allows a time for parents to grieve. Rather, it is significant because it serves as a sign that the grieving parents are not alone in their experience, they are not forgotten in their grief, and their child is remembered.

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day also serves as a platform for community and support on a city, state, national and even international level. In cities across the United States, organizations create and host memorial events, gatherings, support resources, and opportunities for more intimate connection through social media groups and local meet-ups for specific types of loss. There are even organizations who provide keepsake items personalized for families who lost a child in pregnancy or after birth.

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day is a significant way for you, friends and family, to enter in, hold space for your grieving friend or family member, and participate in ways to honor the child they lost.


Observation

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day is observed around the world. Since its inception, October 15th has been recognized through:

  • Memorial Runs and Walks

  • Fundraising Events

  • Social Media Awareness Campaigns

  • Candle Lighting

  • Story Sharing

  • Support Gatherings

  • Faith-Based Celebrations

  • Balloon or Lantern Releasing

  • Memorial Services

The most well-known and participated in event is the annual Wave of Light, a memorial event that takes place around the world. Participants are invited to light a candle in honor of the child or children they grieve at their local time of 7 pm. Each participant leaves their candle(s) burning for hour, until 8 pm, just as the next time zone begins lighting their own candles. What results is a continuous wave of light throughout the globe in honor of babies lost and the parents who mourn them.

Parents, if you are looking for a way to celebrate and honor your precious baby or babies this October 15th, reach out to your local support organizations for information about events happening in your city. Participate in the Wave of Light. Reach out to other families you know who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss and share stories, connect with each other, and honor one another’s experiences. Allow yourself time to grieve, process, and practice self-care. Engage with other families as well as support organizations on social media by searching for posts using the hashtag #PregnancyAndInfantLossRemembranceDay. Consider starting your own tradition for how your family will recognize and observe Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.

Friends and Family, take a moment to reach out to the grieving parents in your life. Send a text or card. Make a phone call. Let them know that you are thinking of them and their precious baby or babies on this important day. Recognize their loss and their grief by sending flowers, inviting them to dinner, or asking if you can participate in any memorial events they may be attending. Light a candle or candles during the Wave of Light and speak the name of the baby or babies who impacted your life. Listen and learn from grieving parents by asking them to share their story with you or by learning through the stories shared on social media by the thousands of parents who know this pain. You can find their words, pictures, and love by searching the hashtag #PregnancyAndInfantLossRemembranceDay.

Carrying To Term wants to honor and celebrate the babies who impacted your life. Your stories matter to us, and we want to offer you a platform to share your story in your own words on our site. For more information about sharing your story with Carrying To Term, please click here. To read stories shared by families who experienced a prenatal diagnosis of a life-limiting condition and carried to term, please click here.

This October 15th, your babies will be remembered by all of us at Carrying To Term.


Sources:

[1] Ronald Reagan: "Proclamation 5890—Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, 1988," October 25, 1988. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=35064.

[2] “Remembering Our Babies.” Welcome, www.october15th.com/.

[3] “Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 5 Sept. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pregnancy_and_Infant_Loss_Remembrance_Day.