Our View: Walk a fitting reminder of those who died too soon

Tragically, approximately 1 million pregnancies annually end in early pregnancy loss, stillbirth or the death of the newborn child in the U.S., and 1 in 4 pregnancies end in loss.

Because so many families have been affected by the loss of a pregnancy or infant child, October has been set aside as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.

In 1988, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed October as a time to share support for those affected by pregnancy or infant loss. This recognition also honors and remembers those babies who died far too soon.

The loss of a child stays with parents, friends and family members forever, but it can be challenging for others to truly understand the emotional and physical impact.

While understanding may be difficult, support and raising awareness can be a beneficial way to show that the painful experiences of these families and the lives of those babies are not forgotten.

In Clark County, we were touched to see that nursing staff at Clark Regional Medical Center planned “A Walk to Remember” Sunday, Oct. 15, which was National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.

The event, which hospital staff said is planned to be hosted annually, remembered babies lost to miscarriage, stillbirth, infant death or the loss of a child at any age. The program included prayer, music from nurse Jennifer Webb, an interpretive dance by Audrey Conkwright and personal stories from Tammy Marcum and Cynthia Petersen, two mothers who both experienced the perinatal loss of a child.

Early pregnancy loss is the most common type of loss. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, studies reveal anywhere from 10 to 25 percent of all clinically-recognized pregnancies will end in early pregnancy loss. When a fetal death occurs after 20 weeks of pregnancy, it is called stillbirth. These tragic deaths occur in about 1 in 160 pregnancies.

Millions of mothers and fathers do not know where to turn for grieving support after losing a child, and these families long for ways to honor their deceased babies. Often discussing pregnancy, infant or other child loss can be taboo or uncomfortable, leaving these already bereaved and fragile families feeling alone in their suffering.

Through walks, candlelight vigils, balloon releases and various other public events, communities can show families they do not have to face these devastating times alone. These events provide a voice and a platform for mothers and fathers to remember their babies and to encourage others to share their child’s memory.

Beyond raising awareness of how common pregnancy and infant loss is and building a network of individuals who share the common experience, these events can connect families with the help they need through support groups or counseling.

As Bereavement Support leader Jan Cornett said Sunday, “We hate to have to do something like this, but we feel it is important.”

We hope this event can continue to raise awareness and that the many local families affected by the loss of a child will find comfort and companionship through this event.