As we observe Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness throughout the month of October, it is so important that we hold space for loved ones, community members, and clients alike who are grieving. The annual day of remembrance observed on October 15 for pregnancy loss and infant death, which includes miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS, and the death of a newborn. Pregnancy and infant loss is a common experience that has been complicated by applied social and cultural taboos to stay silent. The World Health Organization advocates for speaking up and open expression to create a safe space for folks to hold these conversations and de-stigmatize miscarriage, pregnancy loss, still birth, SIDS etc.
Our Mama Glow doulas inspire us every day as they lead the way in reframing what it means to both ask for and give support through healing journeys of all kinds. Some choose to center their work around service as bereavement doulas, specifically, but all are uniquely equipped to care, nurture, and nourish their clients, in part because they have found their way to this work through their own personal experiences.
In uplifting Mama Glow’s October themes of empathy, healing, and support, we asked our incredible community of doulas “How do you show up for the people in your life when they’re experiencing loss, and how do you ask that they show up for you when you yourself are needing support through grief?”
Here’s what they had to say:
“I let others know I’m here for whatever. I’m here to listen or just sit in silence with them while they process all the feelings that come with grief. I can provide words of comfort and honor for the loss or I can provide a nice meal. Sometimes just showing up is enough, but showing up with food – I think that is much more thoughtful. I’m still determining how I want people to show up for me though.”
– Nasseam, Davenport, Florida
“I let others grieve whichever way feels right for them. I make space for them, check-in often, but also respect their boundaries in doing so. I’ve recently learned that the way I want people to show up for me is to allow me to come to them. I am an introvert who needs solitude in moments like this; however, there may be moments where I want to just talk about my process. It is during these times, that I just need a listener. Comfort. I want to be seen, not judged for how and why I’m grieving. The biggest thing for me has been learning how to communicate that.”
– Marcia, Westbury, NY
“How I show up for people in my life that’s experiencing loss is by simply sending love. Most of the time, this will be in a phone call or text message. I would send prayers, quotes or journaling prompts to encourage that person or family’s healing process. This allows the grieving person to know that they are loved and cared about without being too invasive. I’m a person that will typically give space until one asks for physical company. Although I am most definitely a hugger and believe in the power of touch, I understand that everyone’s love language is not physical touch. Especially when it comes to loss. It’s important to understand that loss can bring upon a cluster of emotions such as anger, sadness, and anxiety. Everyone copes differently and that is to be respected.
“I would expect the ones that I show up for to show up for me in that same way. I believe hugs, when appropriate, mental stimulation and/or journaling are effective and healthy outlets when it comes to loss. Also, space, time to feel and process. Let’s not forget the importance of fresh air and deep breaths. When physical touch or conversation is needed, I am one to reach out when I feel ready.”
– Alycia from Inglewood, CA