By: Shannon Duke
October is a definite sign of Fall, right? We see the leaves beginning to turn into savory colors. We see people around us embrace pumpkin spice and everything nice. Sweaters and boots are just a hanger away. Plus, football and chili fill the air.
When October approaches and it is finally here. I not only think of those things I mentioned, but I also think of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness. I view the entire month as a way to honor the cause. I know it might seem strange (or at least different) to some that I equate October with pregnancy and infant loss. However, it is true. The arrival of October tells me, it is time to remind the world of what has been lost. It is not that I am celebrating the loss of Mackenzie and her six siblings. Instead, I am reminding the world that I had life inside me. Sweet little lives that were cherished and are still missed.
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness (PAIL) is not only about me. But, it is about helping the mother, who may feel shame about their loss or even thinks that no one will care. October needs me. It needs you, and it needs our stories. This month needs to see us walk in remembrance of our children. This month needs to see that beautiful wave of light on October 15 at 7pm. This month needs to see our profile picture change and posts that honor our children. And, this month definitely needs to see our strength as we live day by day in spite of our life changing circumstances.
No, it’s not that we only think of our angels in October. We know it’s year-round. But, PAIL is such a great way to bring national attention to something that affects our lives on a daily basis. I will never forget my first PAIL event in 2015. I actually learned about the Remembrance Walk on the day of the event. It was a little chilly outside. Yet, there were hundreds of parents and
their families everywhere. There was food, sweet music, and boards to write your children’s names. Some of the families even had t-shirts designed for the day. I saw mothers read poems and talk about their journey. As I walked the trail, I remember I called my husband crying. I hadn’t really let myself grieve about the deaths of my babies until then. Yet, I cannot say all of my tears were coming from a place of sadness. I was simply overwhelmed by the brave mothers and appreciated the opportunity to show my love.I got to release my balloons in honor of my children, and I could just feel some weight being lifted from me.That event brought me so much peace.
We may not have asked to be a part of this occasion. Yet, our babies have brought us here. I encourage you to use this opportunity as a part of your healing process and a chance to provide awareness.
Shannon Duke is the mother to seven babies resting in Heaven including her daughter Mackenzie, who was born at 21 weeks due to severe pre-eclampsia. She and her husband, Marcus, were blessed by the birth of their rainbow baby Gracyn in July 2018. Shannon spent 10 years in the non-profit sector and now works alongside her husband, who is the pastor of New Day Community Church in Columbia, TN. She discusses her journey and faith through writing. You can follow Shannon on Facebook and Instagram (@savingshannond) or on her blog at www.savingshannon.net.