When you mention October to 75% of the population, thoughts of turning leaves, crisp apples, and the onslaught of all things pumpkin come to mind. Hayrides, first frosts, and then Halloween dreamily float through overly rosy visions of autumn.
Statistically speaking, 25%, or 1 in 4, hear October and think of it as the month where we all join together and remember what we don’t have. We remember what we could have had, and we celebrate all of this with love and optimism (yes, it is possible to grieve and be hopeful at the same time).
At one point in my life, I had no idea there was even such a thing as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. I didn’t know that October 15th was the day that candles were lit in honor of all of the babies lost. Imagine my surprise when, on an October 15th, I learned that my son would be born still.
Oh, the irony.
Now that this has become such a huge part of my life, the awareness and advocacy and the outreach part of pregnancy and infant loss, I can’t imagine a time where I naively went through life without even knowing this existed. I can’t believe that I didn’t know a 1 in 4. Or maybe I did, and just didn’t realize it.
This October will be my third time that I am aware. This October will be the third time that I take the day off from work and do something to mark the day my son was born. This October will be the third time that I light a candle, and celebrate potential, loss, and love.
This will also be the third year where I’ve talked about my losses. I want people to know a 1 in 4. I want them to know women like me exist, and we want to eradicate pregnancy and infant loss, just like cancer, or AIDS, or any other disease.
If this is your first month as a bereaved parent, I’m sorry that this time of year has taken on new meaning. If this isn’t your first October (if it’s your second, or fifth, or tenth), I’m sorry that it’s here again. I hope that your grief heals and nurtures you, and that October becomes hopeful, provides warmth, and is full of peaceful remembrance.
Welcome to October.