Recently, the Suffolk County Legislature unanimously approved a resolution designating October 15th as “Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Awareness Day” at its October 6th general meeting. The resolution, sponsored by Legislator Sarah Anker, was introduced to increase awareness of the causes and impacts surrounding pregnancy and infant loss and to improve understanding, support and potential resources for those who grieve the loss of a pregnancy or an infant.
October was proclaimed as “Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month” in 1988 by President Ronald Reagan and October 15th was later recognized as “Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day” in parts of the United States and the world. “Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day” is a day to honor and remember the lives taken too soon and to support the grieving family members who may feel isolated and alone in their grief. Across the world on this day, there is a ceremonial “Wave of Light” candle lighting at 7:00pm in memory of those lost in pregnancy or infancy.
“When one of my constituents, Elizabeth Kennedy, reached out to my office about the significance and importance of Suffolk County acknowledging Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Awareness Day, I was immediately moved by her story and the stories of those who have experienced a loss like hers and her family’s,” said Legislator Anker. “Many other families in our County have experienced this kind of tremendous loss. I hope that designating this day will help provide necessary support to those who are grieving and remind them they are not alone.”
“I am very honored to have worked with Sarah Anker to have this resolution brought to the table and then have many other Legislators co-sponsor,” said Elizabeth Kennedy. “My family and I went through the hardest thing a parent can go through. February 25, 2018 will forever be our baby girl, Grace Anne’s, day. I was 28 weeks and 6 days pregnant with our second little girl when a doctor at the ER uttered the words, ‘I can’t find a heartbeat, I’m sorry, your baby is no longer with us.’ My hope is that by passing this resolution, parents of loss will feel more of a connection to their community and less isolated in their grief and give them the opportunity to open up and talk about their experience and struggles with friends, family and neighbors who may have suffered a similar loss.” During the Suffolk County Legislature’s General Meeting, Elizabeth Kennedy’s daughter Madelynn shared, “I think this resolution, 1577, will make people happy because you can remember all the babies that are in heaven like my sister, Grace. I think that Grace will be very proud that we got this resolution passed.”
A representative from the Star Legacy Foundation shared a statement about the passage of the resolution, “President Reagan initially named October as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month to highlight the thousands of families across the country who suffer unspeakable grief after the death of a baby. Unfortunately, decades later, this topic still causes many people to be uncomfortable and forces families to suffer in silence. Star Legacy Foundation works to ensure these individuals know they are not alone. Awareness of the problem is essential for progress. One in four women will experience the death of a baby during pregnancy or infancy. Black mothers are twice as likely to have a baby die in the United States. Everyone knows someone affected by these tragedies, but it is rarely talked about. We can change that by raising awareness in memory of the many babies gone too soon.”
Thousands of families in the United States experience pregnancy and infant loss each year. In the United States there are approximately 24,000 stillbirths, or 1 out of 160 births, a year. In addition to stillbirths, current research suggests that between 10% and 20% of medically confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage. “Our foundation is committed to preventing as many of these deaths as possible, and promoting optimal bereavement care when prevention isn’t possible,” said a representative from Star Legacy Foundation. “This work is dependent on the awareness efforts of organizations like ours, parents like Elizabeth Kennedy, and many others.” Organizations like the Star Legacy Foundation provide support to families who have experienced the loss of an infant or pregnancy and seek to increase awareness and support the advancement of research and available education on pregnancy and infant loss. For more information about the Star Legacy Foundation, please visit https://starlegacyfoundation.org.
If you or a loved one has experienced the loss of an infant or a pregnancy and are interested in joining a support group please visit the Star Legacy Foundation’s website to register. Alternatively, Elizabeth Kennedy is working on establishing a collaborative support group with Stony Brook Hospital. To join the waitlist for that support group please email Elizabethmkennedy@me.com and put “Support Group” in the subject line.
Legislator Sarah Anker and Elizabeth Kennedy will be hosting a ceremonial Virtual Wave of Light that will be available for participation and viewing on Facebook Live. Bring your candle and visit facebook.com/SuffolkCountyLegislatorSarahAnker/live at 6:45 PM to join the event. For more information, please call Legislator Anker’s office at (631) 854-1600.