This week (11-17 October) is Baby Loss Awareness Week, and a big part of this campaign is to break the silence and stigma around baby loss to make it easier for those experiencing it to talk and seek support.
Light a Candle
To signify the week Tommy’s charity – which offers support for those going through or experiencing the impact of baby loss – is organising a ‘wave of light’ across social media at 7pm on Friday 15 October. At this time, people are encouraged to light and/or post a picture of a candle on social media to raise awareness of baby loss.
The Wave of Light is an annual campaign that honours the memory of all the babies that never got the chance to be born. Whether you have a personal understanding of this issue or want to show your support, we urge you to take part on Friday to help give strength to those who may be struggling.
By lighting or sharing a candle, we can each light the way towards breaking the silence and helping every person affected by baby loss to know they are part of a caring community in which support is always available should they need it.
Miscarriage – Breaking the Silence
A miscarriage is the loss of a child before the 23rd week of pregnancy and it is estimated that 1 in 4 pregnancies sadly end in this way. At the YMCA, we recognise that this is a very real issue which could be affecting our employees and supporters, whether they be carrying the child or the partner of the person who is.
Yet despite these figures, and how much of a focus there is on the national agenda about mental health, it is something so rarely spoken about in and out of the workplace.
Each person experiencing this kind of bereavement does so in a different way, and there is often a fear of saying the wrong thing which can lead to nothing being said at all. Whilst it is important to be sensitive to the fact that not every person will want to discuss their personal journey, breaking the silence can be instrumental as opening a narrative may allow the person to feel able to talk about their difficult experiences.
You can learn more about the impacts of baby loss and how you can access support or support those around you by visiting the Tommy’s charity website.
Resources for support
- Baby Loss Awareness Week | Tommy’s (tommys.org)
- Support after a miscarriage | Tommy’s (tommys.org)
- Baby Loss Awareness Week – break the silence | Bliss
- Counselling after a miscarriage or pregnancy loss – The Miscarriage Association
A personal testimony from a YMCA employee
‘An angel wrote down in the book of life the day of our baby’s birth, then whispered as she closed the book: too beautiful for earth.’
The words of that poem have haunted me for years, as I have gone through loss after loss. ‘I don’t want a perfect angel, I just want my baby’ are words I have cried more times than I can remember. Why me? What have I done wrong? Why can’t I get it right? I have walked down the street and felt sick at the sight of women pushing prams, knowing I would give everything and more to be one of them. But I fell into the trap that so many people do. I kept silent because it’s ‘not something that is talked about’. The silence hurts. It’s like playing a nightmare through in your head on loop, with no way to escape it. I was lucky, I had a few close friends who were not afraid to talk about it, and those few people saved me. And why, in the age of supporting mental health and all the publicity around it, is this still so taboo, why do so many people rely on a friend who is brave enough to talk about the subject? When one-in-four pregnancies end in miscarriage, why does nobody seem to talk about it and where is the support for those who so desperately need it?
The loss of a baby at any stage of pregnancy is like nothing you can imagine until it happens to you. You grieve for a life that never was. There is no life to celebrate, no memories to treasure, just the emptiness left by a human that never came to life.
Please, if you have been through this and want to talk about it, then talk. And please, if you know someone who has gone through this, stop presuming they don’t want to talk and check in on them, you might be the only one that does and it could help more than you know.