Each October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. At 7pm, families who have lost babies light a candle for an hour in their memory. Doing so creates a “Wave of Light” across the nation, as we remember and honor our little ones.
I look forward to this day. Six years out from losing Charlie and with the chaos of young kids, it’s rare to be able to pause, reflect, remember, and honor Charlie. Last year, this day was difficult. Liam was the age Charlie was when he died, which brought up a lot of trauma reminders. I was also in the throws of a pretty dark postpartum depression. It’s nice to be in a different space this year.
I appreciated that a few family members reached out their support, lighting candles for Charlie, but also checking to see if I was ok. I told them, that yes, I am ok! This day brings up painful feelings of loss, but those feelings feel sacred, tender, and beautiful.
I couldn’t always say that. Especially in the early years of grief. But now, I actually welcome an experience to connect to those feelings. Like I said, daily life is chaotic and it’s too easy to get lost in the swirl of demands. Grief anchors me. It feels cleansing, in a way I can’t actually describe well. But it resets my priorities. It reminds me of what is really important in life. It also provides an opportunity to reflect on how far I’ve come in this grief journey. I love bringing out Charlie’s photo to put by the candle and see all our children together in one space.
I also value the experience this tradition creates for my children. I loved Liam waving at Charlie and playing with his photo. It was also striking to see Hailee’s genuine grief reaction that arose later that evening. She cried for at least an hour over the loss of Charlie but also the “twin” that we lost in the Ectopic pregnancy. She cried that she should have two other siblings here on earth with her. (I didn’t mention the five other miscarriages I’ve had! ha!)
Then, she asked me how sure I was that Liam wasn’t Charlie, come back to us? That is such a difficult question to answer. It’s one that’s come in my head too. Part of me wants to believe that Liam could be Charlie. It would heal SO MUCH. They also look extremely similar! But I believe Charlie and Liam are their own little people and believing them to be the same negates the work we do with grief; with creating meaning, honoring painful emotions, rumbling with difficult questions, and appreciating the depth and beauty we experience through moving through grief. I also want Hailee to understand and believe, as I do, that Charlie is her guardian angel, who watches over her and all of us. I continue to look forward to seeing Charlie and holding him again one day. That night I snuggled Hailee as she cried herself to sleep. Hopefully, one day, grief won’t feel as confusing as it does for Hailee right now. I will continue to support her feeling all her “feels” and loving her through her own grief process, as I’ve had to be patient and compassionate with myself through my own grief journey.