October is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month, first declared by President Ronald Reagan in October 1988. In his declaration, he said this:
“When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses his or her partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them. This month recognizes the loss so many parents experience across the United States and around the world. It is also meant to inform and provide resources for parents who have lost children due to miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy, stillbirths, birth defects, SIDS, and other causes.
Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the month of October 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.”
Here’s the deal: Pregnancy and infant loss is hard. In fact, I would even venture a guess at saying it might just be the worst pain imaginable. I don’t say that to diminish other people’s pain or the grief that comes with other kinds of loss. But, when you lose a baby you don’t just lose a baby. You lose innocence. You lose hopes and dreams. You lose a one year old, and a five year old, and a preteen, and a teenager. You lose birthdays and confirmations and graduations. You lose the opportunity to watch your child get married and have children of their own. You lose a lifetime.
Not only is pregnancy and infant loss an unimaginable pain, but it’s a hell of a lot more common than people think. It’s not just us, but it is us. And it’s our friends. And it’s more friends. It’s people we pass in the grocery store. It’s people living in our neighborhood. It’s people who go to our church.
And it needs to be talked about. Because there are a lot of people who are suffering in silence, quietly grieving, and walking alone through the most tragic and difficult life imaginable.
So this month, I’m making a commitment to talk about it. And I hope you’ll join me in breaking the silence.