Hay River will be lighting candles to join the rest of the world in creating an international wave of light this week to mark International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.
Jennifer Webb and Dale Loutit have teamed up with the international movement and will be organizing Hay River’s event. Both have their own stories of loss.
Webb has had one miscarriage, and one early labour resulting in the loss of her son Jacob at 23 weeks of pregnancy.
Loutit went into spontaneous labour at six months and watched her girl, Stevi Ann, pass away after 15 minutes. She suffered another loss with her next pregnancy when baby Angel was 20 weeks along and again Loutit went into premature labour.
Both ladies have living children as well but share the sentiment that their lost babies will never be forgotten.
“Every day I think about it in some way,” said Webb. “The fact that my family photo is never going to be complete.”
Webb said that while the mother’s grief may be most apparent, the rest of the family needs support as well.
“It’s not just moms who are affected,” said Webb. “I got so depressed, so self absorbed in my own loss. But it was not just me, it was my whole family. That baby is someone’s grandchild, cousin, sibling.”
Webb and Loutit are hoping the event will raise awareness of pregnancy and infant loss, as well as bring comfort to people who are grieving their loss.
“Grieving is so foreign, until you go through it yourself,” said Loutit. “Grieving is really hard. But it becomes lighter when you have other people to support you.”
“Losing a baby is one of the hardest things a person can go through,” added Webb. “Sometimes the only thing you can say to a person is, ‘If you’re pissed off, if you’re heartbroken, that’s OK.'”
Both ladies agree that there was not much support or awareness of pregnancy and infant loss when they needed it most. Loutit said from the statistics she has seen, one in four pregnancies end in loss.
“Everybody knows somebody who has gone through this,” said Webb.
In 2013, Webb brought her story to Hay River South Jane Groenewegen, who brought it to the assembly where was unanimously voted that the NWT would join other parts of the world in declaring Oct. 15 International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. Other provinces participate as well, with some larger cities lighting up prominent buildings at 7 p.m. for the wave of light.
Hay River’s event will include a candle-lighting ceremony to honour the lost children, as well as a time for sharing stories and support.
“People who lost their baby 30 years ago are planning to come,” said Webb. “It’s something you never really get over.”
The vigil will take place in front of the NWT Centennial Library at 7 p.m. on Oct. 15.