One in four pregnancies will end in miscarriage and nine babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet there is still enormous taboo around speaking openly about experiencing pregnancy and baby loss. Baby Loss Awareness Week 2020 takes place from Friday 9 October to Thursday 15 October.
Baby Loss Awareness Week provides bereaved parents who have experienced pregnancy or baby loss with an outlet for their grief.
The week culminates with Wave of Light, a global event that sees families who have lost babies to miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death pay homage to the memories of their loved ones by lighting a candle in their honour.
Here is everything you need to know about Wave of Light and how you can get involved.
When is Wave of Light?
This year, Wave of Light takes place on the final day of Baby Loss Awareness Week on Thursday 15 October.
It coincides with International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.
What does the event entail?
Wave of Light sees bereaved families around the world light a candle at 7pm their local time.
The simultaneous lighting of candles across the globe symbolises a united wave of light, a powerful image to represent the experience of losing a baby.
Stillbirth and neonatal charity Sands explains that the candle is then left burning for at least one hour, whether in a private or public space.
“Wherever you do this, you will be joining a global ‘Wave of Light’ in memory of all the babies who lit up our lives for such a short time,” the charity states.
Those taking part in the international observance may then share a photograph of video of their candle on social media, using the hashtag #WaveOfLight.
Families can also light a virtual candle online, where they can leave a message in memory of their baby and donate money towards pregnancy and baby loss charities.
Those who light a virtual candle with The Lullaby Trust can opt for their candle to burn for a year on the charity’s website until Wave of Light 2021.
How has Baby Loss Awareness Week grown over the years?
Baby Loss Awareness Week has grown tremendously since it first began 17 years ago.
Dr Clea Harmer, chief executive of Sands, outlines how the commemoration was founded by two mothers who experienced baby loss and now work for the charity.
“It started from humble beginnings,” Dr Harmer says. “Two bereaved mothers, now Sands employees, pinned lengths of pink and blue ribbons together to form their own baby loss ribbons, and sent a lengthy press release via a fax machine to the media to try and raise awareness.
“It has been fantastic to watch Baby Loss Awareness Week grow slowly but surely over the years with more and more bereaved parents holding fundraising and awareness raising events.”
Dr Harmer emphasises the importance of breaking down the stigma that continues to surround pregnancy and baby loss, despite the increasing amount of coverage the subject has been received in the media in recent years.
“Breaking the taboo of baby loss is important as it’s a subject that is not often spoken about in society,” the Sands chief executive says.
“Raising awareness of stillbirth and baby loss during Baby Loss Awareness Week helps to bring the subject to the fore, gets people talking about support available and drives improvements in services offered, but more needs to be done.”
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can contact stillbirth and neonatal death charity Sands on 0808 164 3332 or email email@example.com. The helpline is open from 9.30am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday, and until 9.30pm on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.
You can contact the Miscarriage Association helpline on 01924 200799 or email the charity at firstname.lastname@example.org. The helpline is open from 9am to 4pm Monday to Friday.
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