Friday is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.
While you may not be aware, about 16% of all pregnancies in the United States ended in miscarriage or stillbirth. That's a startling number, but one that may not make much sense without actual numbers. According to the pregnancy and infant loss website, "[According to a 2004 survey] 1,003,000 of the 6,401,000 pregnancies in the United States ended in either a miscarriage or a stillbirth."
That's an absolutely devasting thought. Unfortunately, it may be difficult for us to imagine the range of that particular statistic. It's likely that we will only imagine the loss of a million babies and the devastations their parents face. What we will fail to understand is that miscarriages (and infant losses) affect would-be parents, would-be grandparents, would-be aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, etc. There is a ripple effect that serves waves of grief to all parties involved.
More than likely, few of us can prevent the loss of a pregnancy or an infant. We can, however, prepare ourselves to respond to those who will face this horrific event. This website gives several great suggestions regarding what you can/should say. I won't pretend that it's not awkward, but saying something offensive can make an awkward situation even worse.
Do not under any circumstances expect these women to "get over" their grief in a matter of months. It just won't happen. Unfortunately, there is no alarm that sounds when it's time to quit grieving. The best thing you can do is allow your friend to grieve and talk when s/he feels the need and then go about life as normal.
Do not tell the couple they can have another baby. That's insensitive.
Do not tell the couple that it was for the best or that the baby is in a better place now. While the couple may have a strong faith in God, that particular sentiment is really difficult to swallow when you can't make heads or tails of a horrible situation. Be sensitive to those struggles of faith.
There are more suggestions from those websites, along with ways to get involved. Mostly, just be willing to remember. Be willing to pray. Be willing to put your arm around someone so that survival doesn't feel empty.
Personally, I am taking this day to offer some personal recognition to a girl who lost her baby at 20 weeks. I want her to know that I care about her, but that I haven't forgotten her loss.
All pregnancies are special. Don't forget.