Wave of Light Events Honor Pregnancy and Infant Loss | News, Sports, Jobs

Courtesy Attendees at the International Wave of Light 2021 event at MyMichigan Medical Center Midland created bespoke luminaria to honor families who had lost a child.

MIDLAND – Each year, more than one million families in the United States experience a miscarriage, stillbirth, or death of an infant. However, because these events can be emotionally difficult to talk about, there is little public awareness, so families may not always get the support they need.

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, a time to show support for these families, highlight available resources, and build understanding of how family, friends, and the community can help.

If you visit a MyMichigan Health facility in October, you may notice employees wearing pink and blue ribbons or special t-shirts to show their support. MyMichigan Medical Centers in Alma, Midland and West Branch will also participate in the International Wave of Light, a worldwide memorial event taking place on October 15 from 7-8 p.m. During this time, candles are lit at the entrances of medical centers to honor babies who are premature and their families. Patients, staff and community members are invited to attend.

resources available

If you are experiencing a loss, your family doctor or gynecologist can be a good first point of contact, to help you cope with the physical and emotional impact of a loss and to identify resources that can help.

MyMichigan Hospice provides grief support for individuals and families who have lost a loved one, including education, support groups, short-term counseling, and referrals to community professionals for longer-term aftercare. To find a local grief and loss support group, visit mymichigan.org/supportgroups or call 800-862-5002.

There are many local and national non-profit organizations that specialize in helping families recover from miscarriage and miscarriage. Their services range from resources and materials discussing what families can expect during the grieving process, to real-time support groups – both in person and online, to financial support for funerals and other expenses. Some organizations focus on specific bereaved family members, such as parents or siblings, or on specific causes of perinatal death. Consider calling your local 2-1-1 helpline to find agencies in your area that can provide targeted grief services.

What to say when

someone loses a child

When a pregnancy or child is lost, loved ones often feel uncomfortable or don’t know what to say or do. Some well-meaning people may even say things that are more hurtful than helpful. Experts recommend keeping condolence messages simple, following family cues, and asking their preferences if you’re unsure.

Here are some tips:

¯ Acknowledge your loss in short, simple sentences, such as: “I’m sorry for your loss.” Or “I can imagine that this must be painful for you.”

¯ Offer to listen if they want to talk. It’s also okay to just admit that you don’t know what to say.

¯ Ask if it’s okay to talk about the baby and use the baby’s name.

¯ People may think that a miscarriage is “no big deal”, but the value of a life is not proportional to the time spent on earth. When a family loses a child, they lose the entire future they dreamed for themselves and that child – a life full of milestones and memories. In some cases, they may not have another opportunity to become parents, which can add to their grief.

¯ Avoid expressions that downplay their feelings, tell them how you want them to feel, or try to find a ‘silver lining’ in their grief.

¯ Think of the father, siblings and other family members. The focus is usually on mothers, but the whole family may need your support. Be aware that men may feel the need to “be strong,” which can hinder their grieving process.

¯ Offer to help with specific tasks. People who are grieving may not be able to identify their needs or ask for help. You may offer to help with looking after other children, preparing meals, doing housework, preparing for the funeral, notifying extended family or friends, or creating a special keepsake or ritual to commemorate the baby. Remember that help and support may be especially needed after other helpers have moved on.

¯ Acknowledge them as parents. This is often overlooked when they have no living children but are parents and should be supported and addressed as parents.

¯ Remember them for years to come. Call, send a card, or offer to spend time with them on milestone days. Mourning does not end with the birth or funeral service.

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