When a loved one is lost, there are no words to describe the pain felt by the people left behind. For parents who are grieving the loss of a pregnancy, stillbirth, or an infant… they face their own set of challenges.
Accepting that a new life has ended, even though it barely began is an unbearable thought.
Tuesday is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, and KETK wants to share stories from parents who are brave enough to express their grief, in hopes of normalizing the conversation about loss. Their goal is to make sure their children will always be remembered.
Hannah Sofetly gave birth to twin boys, Samuel and Simeon, but only left the hospital with one.
“I remember a nurse telling me ‘it’s going to be okay, your baby’s in heaven, your baby is in heaven…..and I didn’t want to believe her. I wanted her to be wrong,” said Hannah.
Samuel died a few days later for reasons doctors still don’t know.
“He was perfect – He had lots of hair, cute little button nose, he was actually bigger than Simeon. Samuel was 5.6 and Simeon was 4.6 ounces,” said Hannah.
It’s been four months since the birth of her boys and Simeon is happy and healthy, but the hardest part of raising their son is how others never mention his brother’s name.
“Just like any other parent that talks about their kid and shares too many pictures on Facebook, brags on their kids, we wanna talk about Samuel too,” said Hannah.
Suzy Emre, Founder of PILA, says it is a problem many parents who have lost children face.
One in four women experience loss during pregnancy, and the silence that follows can be just as devastating.
“They want people to mention their baby’s names – that’s very important. People shouldn’t be afraid to walk up to somebody who they know had a miscarriage or a stillbirth or a loss from SIDS or any other pregnancy infant loss,” said Emre.
That’s why President Ronald Regan declared October 15th Pregnancy and Infant Awareness Day with these words:
“When a child loses their parent, they are child an orphan…when a spouse loses their partner they are called a widow or widower…when a parent loses their child there isn’t a word to describe them.”
In East Texas, the Children’s Park of Tyler is a place dedicated to the loss of Jennifer and Billy Dan Carson’s son Braden who passed away just hours before he was born.
They say they wanted it to be a place for families and friends to go, besides a cemetery, to reflect, celebrate, grieve, and heal.
Every year in May they celebrate “The Day of Rememberence” where families honor the memory and eternal life of the child who has died through a community butterfly release.
“As you lose your child and the years continue to grow, you feel like your children are being forgotten and this is kind of a way to make sure they’re not,” said Heather Ogg, Sterling Committee Member.
The Softley’s say they hope more people talking about their son helps them heal.
“Talking about him doesn’t remind us what happened because it’s always on our mind,” said Hannah. “It’s okay to say their name – that is music to our ears when people say both of their names.”
Which has provided a blanket of comfort over their grieving hearts.