By Heidi Welsh, Registered Psychologist
Grief and Loss is such a pivotal life event that changes peoples experiences, perceptions and relatability in the world. It reaches every inch or your being and can manifest even in physical ways. Our western culture struggles to connect to how to respond in supporting people when experiences grief and loss. We don’t always hold the space for people, we are quick to ease our own discomfort around their pain and sadness and quickly move on to other topics or provide a brief statement and then move on. For those who have experienced loss firsthand, we know how very helpful and healing it is when you find those amazing family, friends, work colleagues, or professionals who are able to hold space in your grief and talk through the impact of loss.
My understanding of grief irrevocably changed the day that we lost our daughter, Ellie, who was stillborn full term in 2017. A firsthand experience of both the positives and negatives of others’ supportive attempts shaped how I view the world, what I know helps and what doesn’t, how it changes a person and what they can tolerate even down to a physical level. I discovered that loss specific to pregnancy and infancy loss is compounded and like other forms of grief in permeates every moment forward, every milestone, every what if thought, every what would or should be thought, how you relate, how you parent, how you integrate your baby who has died into your living world as somehow the only way in moving forward. I know I’m not alone in this, it helps to know this when going through the raw moments.
My hope is that as a society we would find ways to hold space for people, to be able to allow the uncomfortable to happen, to sit with people not just straight after the immediate event of loss, but afterwards, ongoingly.
October has been allocated as Pregnancy and Infancy Loss Month and the 15th of October is nominated as International Pregnancy and Infancy Loss Day where activities all around the world and in every state run fundraisers to support research and raising awareness creating an opportunity to remember, share, and acknowledge the impact it has on our community. This also coincides with the International Wave of Light where all around the world at 7pm your local time, families can light a candle in memory of a pregnancy or baby that was lost. As the time zones cycle through, it creates a wave of light across the globe symbolising and acknowledging every little life lost to pregnancy and infancy loss.
There are a few events being held in the Bunbury region:
- RedNose/SANDS Australia’s “Walk to Remember 2022” in Bunbury. Feel free to click on the link below and register to join.
- St John of Gods Bunbury also organise a ceremony called “Wave of Light”- contact St John of God directly if you are interested or need more information.
- You can from the own comfort of your home participate by lighting a candle in memory of a baby and post the picture with the hashtag #internationalwaveoflight #pregnancyandinfancylossday
In addition, I’ve had the opportunity to be co-author in a book titled, “Letters of Love – Pregnancy and Infancy Loss” which will be released on October 15th. Any proceeds collected from the sale will go directly back into donating the book to organisations, individuals, or hospitals that provide support packages following pregnancy and infancy loss. If you are interested in being a part of the online launch day, click the link below:
Below is an interview where I share more about my experience of losing our daughter Ellie and experience of surviving grief as well as talk a little bit about my contribution to a letter that was written to Ellie from my perspective as a mother.
Hopefully by becoming involved in events to raise awareness, and practicing holding space for people, we can start to change how we respond to grief and loss and break the silence and isolation that can come with being impacted by loss.