October is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month and now that you’re done with the tooth fairy, PTA meetings and kindergarten graduations, you may think that pregnancy and infant loss is an issue that doesn’t effect you… but if your kids have decided to become parents, you may be vulnerable in ways you never dreamed of.

The CDC sites that Stillbirth affects approximately 1 in 160 births and that approximately 24,000 babies are stillborn in the United States each year.

About the same number die every year during their first year of life and another 2,400 die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) estimates 15 to 20 per cent of pregnancies end in Miscarriage.

These numbers tell a story that has, for centuries been silenced or swept under the carpet with the heartbreaking, if well-meant advice of: “You Can Always Have Another”.

If you’ve ever lost a babe, a child or the chance to have one, you know that it’s something that changes you forever.   “You Can Always Have Another” is neither helpful nor always true.

As parents we dream of the days when our children will grow up and have families of their own.  It’s natural then, when our children’s dreams of parenthood are dashed, that we would grieve for them.  We grieve for the fact that we cannot save them from this pain and we grieve our own lost dreams of grandchildren, holidays and all the happily-ever-afters that dreams are made of.

Whether you have the chance to meet your grandchild or miss out on that entirely, the shattered dreams of what that child would bring get piled upon the shattered dreams that you have for your grown children’s expectant joy.  It quickly becomes a complicated loss…

It’s no wonder we feel hobbled.

If you were raised with the idea that only the one with the biggest pain had any “right” to grieve, then you may put your own grief aside, justifying that it does not “compare” to the grief that your child and their partner may be feeling.   But denying your own pain is not helpful.    Hearts grieve.   Everyone has their own unique experiences of love and loss and each story deserves respect.

It is our job as parents to prepare the next generation for what is to come.   And while we cannot ever prepare them for the pain of losing a child, we can sit with them when they hurt and let them know that we remember what it was like when we hurt.

Sometimes grief is a wave that overwhelms us when a loved one dies.  Sometimes it is the pain that comes when dreams of a new beginning die, before they ever have a chance to take shape.

Written by Catherine Mitchell, Certified Grief Recovery Specialist serving the Durham Region.