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Sunset Country Family Health Team
Sunset Country Family Health Team

Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day – October 15th

Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day – October 15th

“I’m sorry, there isn’t a heartbeat.” “Your baby has died.”

Let the weight of those words sink in for a moment.

For families who have experienced the loss of a child before or after birth these are more than sad sentiments. These are words that destroy dreams, shatter hope, and alter lives forever. These are words that turn unimaginable nightmares in to reality.

As many as 25% of pregnancies will end in a loss. 1 in 4. Chances are, this includes someone you know. Each year on October 15th, Ontario acknowledges the experience of loss families through Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day. This was proclaimed a protected event as part of a larger piece of legislation passed in 2015 (Bill 141: Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness, Research and Care Act). The Act also requires research to be undertaken and programs to be developed to address the impact of pregnancy loss and infant death for families.

Another ritual carried out within the pregnancy and infant loss (PAIL) community on October 15th is the Wave of Light. People are asked to light a candle at 7pm and let it burn for an hour as a sign of support and remembrance.

Why should we talk about this? The simple answer is: because it matters. It matters that parents feel supported when they are told their pregnancy has ended or they have lost their child. It matters that healthcare and support providers communicate with families in a sensitive and compassionate way. It matters that there are resources available to help parents navigate through a very complicated and traumatic kind of grieving.

It also matters that we see these families and hear their stories. Acknowledgement of the devastation and ongoing struggle to make sense of a pregnancy or infant loss is so important for many parents. It means they don’t need to explain why they may be completely different people after their loss. It means they don’t have to be afraid or feel ashamed to express their pain. It means they are surrounded by an informed, compassionate community.

Education & support are key components of acknowledgement. The Pregnancy & Infant Loss (PAIL) Network of Ontario is a good place to start and provides information about these types of losses and how families can access help. In Kenora, the Pregnancy & Infant Loss Coalition serves as a resource for support, education, and awareness within the community. This group is made up of healthcare and support providers from various organizations, including representatives from the Sunset Country Family Health Team, as well as volunteers with lived experience. The Coalition will be hosting a PAIL Network Compassionate Care Workshop in November. This session will provide an opportunity for local professionals to increase their PAIL-related knowledge and skills. Kenora also has PAIL Network-trained peer support volunteers who are providing one-on-one counselling and will soon be starting a Circle of Support (ie. support group) for local families.

October 15th is an important date for us all to mark on our calendars. The PAIL families in our community require sensitivity, compassion, and support each and every moment following their losses. Take some time to learn, reflect, and share with friends and family this week – because it matters.

Questions? Call us at (807) 468-6321 or send us an email for more information.