By: Dr. Michelle Heffner Macera and Dilini Herath MD 2
On October 15, a circle of light united the world for International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Those affected by this loss – and their supporters– lite a candle for one hour in their time zone to create a 24-hour circle of light that travels the globe. Fittingly, Pregnancy and Infant loss is universal, affecting families of every race, creed, and culture throughout the world. .
While our medical understanding of pregnancy loss is solid, there is an increased need for psychological care and support. Pregnancy can trigger a wide range of emotional reactions that affect the expectant mother and father. Pregnancy loss is a unique type of grief. Pregnancy loss can be a “lonely grief” because couples may not have announced their pregnancy yet, and therefore avoid sharing their loss with their support system.
Xavier University School of Medicine collaborated with the Women’s Club of Aruba to host Aruba’s first-ever International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day event at the California Lighthouse. Under the guidance of Dr. Michelle Heffner Macera and Dr. Segie Apacible, the event was organized by Dilini Herath, a second-semester student in the XUSOM MD program, who is interested in conducting research on the psychological effects of pregnancy loss.
Speakers included fellow MD-2 students Lofty Akpanke, Tahir Khan, and Fariha Angum, who educated the audience on Pregnancy Loss awareness. Fariha Angum and Tahir Khan spoke about depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress symptoms that occur after a pregnancy loss and emphasized the need for more compassionate medical care for both mothers and fathers.
Lofty Akpanke, who served as the Master of Ceremony, began the event by asking how many people in the audience know someone who suffered a Pregnancy Loss. After an overwhelming number of hands went up, Lofty Akpanke then asked how many people knew what to say to someone who suffered a pregnancy loss, and only a few hands went up, verifying the need for more awareness and support.
Women’s Club of Aruba President Milagros Posner offered a prayer, followed a moment of silence, set to music, as the audience held hands around the lighthouse. At 7 p.m., the crowd used their cell phone flashlights to mark Aruba’s first participation in the international wave of light.
So, may those affect by Pregnancy loss be surround by light on October 15, and find comfort in knowing the world sees you and supports you. For more information on the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, go to www.october15th.com.