Comparison in any kind of grief is meaningless and yet there is something different about pregnancy and infant loss.
Most deaths people morn are of loved ones whom they've known for years. Parents who lose a pregnancy haven't had the opportunity to meet their baby. Parents who lose an infant have not had the opportunity to see who their baby will become. It's loss upon loss. It's a lifetime of missed milestones.
First smile. Finding toes. Laughing. Sitting up. Solid food. Crawling. Clapping. Standing. Cruising. Dancing. Walking. Talking.
For these parents there are no birthdays. There isn't a first day of school. There isn't a best friend who is over so much she's one of the family. There are no favorite colors. There are no drawings, school plays, music recitals, or sports. No changes that come with puberty. No driver's license. No complaints about how hard algebra is and how little it will be used in "real life." No graduation. No moving out. There is no wedding. There are no grandchildren.
Every anniversary, every holiday, every birthday . . . they hurt in a new way. Just as the scab forms over the last missed milestone, grief rips it off and exposes the raw tissue beneath that doesn't have the opportunity to heal.
This isn't better or worse. It's not harder or easier. It's different.
The Calvary Cemetery in Lakewood, WA, has a monument to honor the unborn. This isn't meant to start a discussion about when life begins - it's meant to start a discussion about the importance of having a safe space and supportive environment to be with this grief. The monument in this Catholic cemetery includes a central marker, twin angels, and a contemplation bench. It's a beautiful, quiet space.
October 15 of each year is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. I will light a candle for the families I have witnessed this year who are without their babies.
I see a lot of incredible moments of the human experience while being with families in love and grief. From each family I learn, and those lessons and points to ponder are what I wish to share with you here.