October 15, 2013 has been proclaimed Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day by the Province of British Columbia. This is an important acknowledgement of the trauma and grief that hundreds of families face after the devastating tragedy of the death of their baby. Vancouver will join other major Canadian cities in marking this day thanks to BC Place, which will light up the stadium roof in purple and blue on October 15 in remembrance and honour of the children who have died far too early.
In 2011 BC Vital Statistics reported 441 stillbirths and 167 infant deaths in British Columbia alone. These statistics do not include the high number of miscarriages that occur before 20 weeks of pregnancy. Despite the technological and medical advances in other fields of medicine, the rate of stillbirth in developed countries has not declined significantly over the past 20 years and often the cause of a stillbirth remains unknown.
Additionally, the death of a child is a stigmatized tragedy. It is only rarely talked about in public despite a growing number of bereaved families who blog about their experience or speak up publicly to bring awareness to these tragedies. “To me one of the big shocks was how many people came forward and told us about their own story of loss after our first son had died. We would have never known otherwise.” says Jens Locher who initiated the BC Childloss Support Network (BCCSN).
“The story of each family is unique with its own challenges and there will likely never be simple guidelines how to support bereaved parents. However, many parents seem to struggle with the lack of acknowledgement of the existence of their babies.” October 15 provides an opportunity for everyone to reach out in a sensitive way to friends or colleagues who have lost a child. A little note that a candle is lit in memory of a child, or mentioning their names are just two ways to remember the children.
If you would like to make a financial contribution there are many fantastic initiatives and organizations in British Columbia that provide invaluable support to bereaved parents, such as Canuck Place Children’s Hospice, Still Life Canada or Little Spirits Garden.