October was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, a time to commemorate babies whose lives with us may have been brief but will be forever remembered by their grieving families. Each year, miscarriage, stillbirth, and early infant loss affect thousands of families. Many people don’t realize the extent of this tragedy until someone close to them is affected.
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month provides an opportunity for families to share their experiences and ongoing grief. The aim of many awareness campaigns around the world is to connect families with resources in their community. The pain of losing a child is unimaginable, and, especially with the loss of a very young child, many people are uncertain what to say or what kind of help the family might need. Providing a forum for discussion with experienced professionals on-hand can be the beginning of life-changing conversations.
One family has been sharing openly about their grief on Instagram. Al and Jen Ferguson, who live in the United Kingdom, have given countless people a space to share their own experiences and feelings.
Over the course of three years, the Fergusons experiencing the devastation of seven miscarriages. They have shared the raw and difficult emotions of that journey, along with the joy and beauty with their three living children.
This year, to mark Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, Al posted a photo for the International Wave of Light, an event that took place at 7 PM local time on October 15. To participate in the Wave of Light, people posted photos of a lighted candle to represent a baby who passed away. Al’s photo was incredibly moving and prompted an outpouring of support.
The image shows Jen and Al holding a tray of seven tea candles, one for each child they lost to miscarriage. Jen is also wearing a sweatshirt that says “angel momma,” a beautiful reminder that motherhood begins long before a baby is born and each baby lost will always be remembered. In the caption, Al wrote:
7 candles for 7 babies gone too soon. I’ve had a cry today. Well actually quite a big cry, but that’s ok. It’s ok to not be ok and it’s more than ok for men to cry. Thinking of everyone affected by babyloss this evening
Much of the public outreach surrounding miscarriage and baby loss is aimed at mothers. Al’s honest reflections on a difficult and painful day are a reminder that for every mother who mourns a child there is also a father.
This is not the first time Al has spoken about the need to recognize the grief of fathers of deceased children. The experience of the couple’s first miscarriage made him realize how few resources are available to dads struggling after the loss of a child. From that challenging experience, Al was inspired to found The Dad Network, a worldwide support network for fathers offering emotional support and encouragement.
The Dad Network has grown into a thriving community in the UK and around the world with many local chapters and events. Born out of grief and pain, The Dad Network is now a community supporting fathers in all walks of life.
As demonstrated by Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, the Ferguson family’s experiences are not unique. They are unique in their dedication to speaking openly and educating people about the struggles mothers and fathers face after miscarriage but there are many, many people who share those struggles every day.
Each year, some of our friends, family members, and neighbors will experience miscarriage and early infant loss. Acknowledging the importance of each and every human Life is an important part of helping families grieve. No matter when a child is lost, he or she is undeniably a person deserving of love. When our society devalues human life and says a preborn baby is not a person, we ignore the pain of families grieving the very real loss of a child.
If you have experienced pregnancy or infant loss, you are not alone. You can find resources by visiting MyMiscarriageMatters.org.