If you’re wondering why many maternity units, funeral parlours and Facebook profiles have turned pink and blue this week, it’s to mark Baby Loss Awareness Week (9-15 October). Around the world, there are approximately 30 million miscarriages, 2.6 million still births and 5.5 million neonatal/early years losses each year.
Zoe Clark Coates MBE, co-founder of the Mariposa Trust (sayinggoodbye.org), knows first-hand how painful losing a baby can be, having experienced five miscarriages herself. The charity works with thousands of families each week who are grieving the loss of a baby, and has written four books related to the subject in a bid to help countless others. For Zoe, this week is about breaking the taboos.
Shining a light on baby loss
However, this week isn’t really for these grieving families, she claims: “Bereaved parents don’t need a special month or week to remember. They remember their child 365 days a year, whether the world acknowledges their loss or not. Whether their baby has been lost early or late in pregnancy, at birth or in early years, they remember. Baby loss awareness is about shining a light on this subject; a subject that so many are afraid of and so many run from.”
If you’d like to mark the week in a visual way, you could do so lighting a candle and placing it in a window at 7pm on Friday 15 October (or sharing a photo of a candle on social media). Some will be taking part in sponsored sporting events on behalf of a baby loss charity, while others will be turning their profiles or businesses pink and blue in support of those who are grieving lost children.
“Baby loss is a journey – a lifelong journey – and if you take part in Baby Loss Awareness Week, let me say thank you,” says Zoe. “Thank you from me, but also thank you from every parent around the globe who has lost a child. Because when you share their post, when you hit like, they will see you. They will hear you.”
A story of love
There are other less visible but equally important ways of marking this important week. It may be helpful to read up on subject and learn how to support people who have been through, or are currently going through, baby loss. It’s important that we are able to talk to people sensitively about this subject, but even more crucially to listen to their stories, silently share their pain and pray with or for them as they navigate a future that will not play out the way they expected.
But Zoe reminds us that there is more to baby loss than grief pain and tears: “It’s a story of love, of celebration, of becoming parents. It’s a place where grief and love collide. It’s where dreams lay shattered on the floor, but simultaneously a new view of life can be birthed. It is only when the silent scream has been released from your soul, when your heart has been broken in two, that you discover this depth of love and pain even exists. So when the tears are falling, smiles are also breaking forth.”
She believes it is vital to stand with those who have suffered loss, honour the babies no longer with us and celebrate life: “I will find joy in the smallest of things, as this is the gift my lost children gave me. But the space they left behind will always remain, for these are my children, and I am their parent. This week we will honour every child that ran ahead.”
You can read more of Zoe’s story here. For further information about baby loss, or to access support, visit the Mariposa Trust and Saying Goodbye.
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