Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Faces of Loss
I left the hospital, got home, looked around, and thought, “now what?”
I can’t even put into words how alone I felt. Alone and ashamed, like I was some freak of nature. My friends were wonderful, but none of them could really ‘get it.’ Even my own husband couldn’t comprehend the pain I was feeling; he, after all, had not carried her in his belly for six months.
I went online to look for support, but what I found was mainly either stale, out-dated, and impersonal, or overly religious for my taste, filled with images of flashing cherubs and angel clip art. As if I didn’t already feel like enough of an outsider. “Where,” I thought, “can I go and just feel normal?” Am I really the only one out there?
I know now, that I’m not. I am far from alone. In fact, 700,000 other women go through the death of a baby every year, in the United States alone. That’s 2,000 women every single day, 80 “there is no heartbeats” every single hour. So why does no one talk about it? Why do we all feel so alone?
I decided I was going to do something about it, for myself, and for the hundreds of thousands of others like me, who are just looking for a place to connect, who are just looking for a place to grieve openly and honestly with others who ‘get it.’
Along with my friend, Andrea, who also lost a baby, her son Oliver, when she was 19 weeks along, I started a website/organization called Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope (www.facesofloss.com). Faces is basically a collection of miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss stories, categorized and searchable by type of loss, stage of loss, location, and keywords, so that visitors to the site can easily find stories similar to their own. Along with each story, there is a head shot of the author. Faces has only been up and running for a couple months, but there are already over 400 stories and photos featured on the site. It’s incredibly striking and powerful to see so many beautiful, diverse faces, all in one place. They are the faces of your neighbor, your co-worker, your sister, your friend.
We have launched our new campaign called I AM THE FACE which runs through October 15th, which is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Our goal is to have 2,000 women who have lost a baby add a picture of their face to the site, to represent the 2,000 women who lose a baby every single day in the US. The goal is to ‘put a face’ on pregnancy and infant loss, and let more women who are suffering in silence know that they are not alone, and have no reason to be ashamed.
We are hoping that this becomes a movement, that those who have experienced a loss start thinking of themselves as survivors. You can really feel a sense of new found pride radiating from the women who have joined the campaign already. Yes, they are sad, but they are proud to have survived one of the worst things that can happen to a person, and proud to speak of the children they have lost and who have touched their lives forever.
To join the movement, please go to www.iamtheface.org. You can also read stories of loss and hope, and share your own at www.facesofloss.com.
You can read Stevie Joy's birth story at http://www.facesofloss.com/2010/07/kristin-mom-to-stevie-joy-stillborn-on.html