Trigger warning: This post discusses pregnancy and infant loss. If you are struggling with a miscarriage or stillbirth, know that we are praying for you and your family.
October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, and it’s a great opportunity to honor and remember the children who will never step foot in your ministry but whose absence is felt deeply by their families.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), over a million pregnancies end in miscarriages or stillbirths each year, which means chances are high that a family in your ministry has experienced this terrible loss. Many families choose not to share about miscarriages or stillbirths, and even when leaders are aware of the loss, we don’t often know how to respond when tragedies like this happen.
Here are a few ways you and your ministry can support families and honor the little ones gone too soon…
- Talk about the baby. Use the baby’s name. Ask them to tell you about their baby or pregnancy, if they feel comfortable. Ask to see pictures of the baby if there are any. Give them space to remember the life lost, and avoid statements that minimize their emotions or tell them how they should be feeling. If nothing else, say “I’m sorry” and feel free to admit that you don’t know what to say.
- Host a candlelight vigil. Consider hosting an event at your church that honors, celebrates, and remembers children who have died. This may be a mid-week prayer service that gives time and space for lament, grief, prayer, and worship. Giving families opportunities to light a candle in honor of their little one or to remember them in some way allows families to process their grief and find support from others in similar situations.
- Pink and Blue ribbons. Tie pink and blue ribbons (the symbol for Pregnancy and Infant Loss) around a tree on your church property, along with a sign that explains the symbolism of the ribbon(s). Leave it up throughout the month of October.
- Post on social media on October 15. While the whole month can be dedicated to honoring pregnancy and infant loss, October 15 is World Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Post a simple graphic on social media (this resource includes a graphic + caption for you to share) that lets families know you’re thinking about them and their babies.
- Give the family a gift. Flowers, photos, trees, figurines, and jewelry are examples of items that can be a source of comfort, support, and remembrance. You may also consider making a donation in their baby’s honor as a gift.
- Be specific with offers to help. Families are not often able to identify or voice their needs when they’re grieving and will typically not reach out for help once they recognize what they need. Rather than asking families what they need, be specific with ways to help. For example: “Can I bring you dinner tomorrow night?” or “Can I come play with (older siblings) while you take a nap or get something done?” or “Can I help you clean the house?” Other tasks may include washing the car, doing laundry, picking up family members at the airport, going to the store, researching funeral homes or support resources, and calling employers or extended family and friends.
- Equip them to talk about the loss with their other children. If the family has older children, consider giving them a copy of The Moon is Always Round, a beautiful children’s book that uses the vivid imagery of the moon to explain to children how God’s goodness is always present, even when it might appear to be obscured by upsetting or difficult circumstances. It directly relates to pregnancy and infant loss as a little boy experiences the loss of his sister and how his family grieves and celebrates her.
- Remember them in the months and years to come. Call, send a card or text, or offer to spend time with them on milestone days, like the baby’s due date or birthday. Make a note of the 1-year anniversary of the baby’s death and any other important days that may be difficult year after year. We shared a free sympathy card printable here.
What can you do this October to support families who have lost a child during pregnancy or infancy?