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Breaking the Silence: Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day

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Oct. 15 is a day to honor families who have suffered the loss of a baby. Credit: Enfinite5/Morguefile.
Oct. 15 is a day to honor families who have suffered the loss of a baby. Credit: Enfinite5/Morguefile.
 By Mona Shand, Public News Service - MO, Contact
October 15, 2015

ST. LOUIS – There is no word in the English language to describe a parent who has lost a child, but there is a day to honor them – and help others relate to a loss so many Missourians have experienced.

Honoring all those who have lost children because of miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS, birth defects or other causes, Oct. 15 is recognized across the country as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.

Lori Behrens, executive director of SIDS Resources in St. Louis, says too many families grieve in silence and often feel abandoned by friends after experiencing the loss of a child.

"Most likely because they don't know what to do in terms of helping," she says. "They end up just staying away, and unfortunately that creates additional isolation for grieving moms and dads."

Behrens recommends offering practical help, such as providing meals or helping with errands for a grieving family, as well as emotional support by simply giving them an opportunity to talk about the loss when they are ready. The CDC estimates nearly 25,000 babies are stillborn in the U.S. each year, and as many as one in four pregnancies results in miscarriage prior to 20 weeks' gestation.

While every bereaved parent will experience grief in his or her own way, Behrens stresses there is no time frame. She says even parents who suffered a loss many years ago still need support, as their grief is for life.

"Many parents do want to tell the story, or just to talk about their child," she says. "They like to hear their child's name mentioned. Most people really just want to know that their child won't be forgotten."

The CDC reports that each year there are about 3,500 sudden unexpected infant deaths in the U.S., which occur among children less than one-year-old and have no immediately obvious cause.

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