October 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day

By Robyn Kalda

Ontario declared October 15 as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day very late in 2015, so tomorrow will be the first time this day of remembrance has taken place.

Losing a pregnancy or an infant is a peculiarly difficult form of loss -- invisible as all losses are invisible to those outside them, but also with the additional loss of a lifetime of possibility and the very physical sequelae unavoidable at the end of a pregnancy. It's a monstrous, momentous, unexpected loss, but not a form of loss that we talk about often, although it's far from uncommon. Perhaps this day of remembrance will help bring the conversation about this form of loss further into the vernacular.

I recently read An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination, Elizabeth McCracken's memoir of her stillborn son. She writes about her grief with perceptiveness and clarity and even humour:

"Perhaps it goes without saying that I believe in the geographic cure. Of course you can't out-travel sadness. You will find it has smuggled itself along in your suitcase. It coats the camera lens, it flavors the local cuisine. In that different sunlight, it stands out, awkward, yours, honking in the brash vowels of your native tongue in otherwise quiet restaurants. You may even feel proud of its stubbornness as it follows you up the bell towers and monuments, as it pants in your ear while you take in the view. I travel not to get away from my troubles but to see how they look in front of famous buildings or on deserted beaches. I take them for walks. Sometimes I get them drunk. Back at home we generally understand each other better."

It must have been a cathartic book to write, as it certainly is to read.

If you've experienced such a loss -- as some of us here at Health Nexus have -- our hearts are with you, on October 15 and every day.

In Ontario, the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Network (PAIL) offers support groups for bereaved families in many locations, as well as butterfly releases in two cities. See their website for details.