October is coming soon — only seven weeks away!
October 15 is the international day for pregnancy and infant loss awareness as started by Robyn Bear. Many of us will only light a candle at home on that day, but some of you super-mamas out there will organize public candle lightings or memorial walks.
It’s not terribly hard to do, and I have some tips if you want to start a candlelighting or walk in your area:
First, find other grieving moms. A great place to contact is the grief counselor at your local hospital. They will know where the support groups are and can pass on information. Your own OB/Gyn’s office may also know, and if they don’t, find the biggest practice in town and call them.
It’s okay to start very small. Don’t be afraid to just get out of the house. The first year I knew about Oct. 15, I just grabbed my daughters and showed up at the shore of our Town Lake with my candles. I had a few extra, and it was amazing how people would come by and ask what we were doing, and how many of them felt touched by loss and just wanted to stay a few moments and remember, think, or pray. I sent them away with tiny tea lights, the kind you can buy with a bazillion in a package for a few dollars. Now I make a little sign that explains what we are doing to passers by.
If your group is small (under 25), you don’t need special permits any more than you would for a family picnic. Just go. If it grows, you can plan bigger next year, and contact the city and the newspaper and all that. But it’s okay to start small and simple. If you really want to walk and not just hang out, find a hike and bike trail or circle the grounds of a church, and don’t worry about a big event, blocking roadways or police escorts. Just walk. The t-shirts and media attention and hundreds of participants can wait until you’re sure you want to be in charge of an event and all the work that can mean.
Once I start getting a few calls or emails, I tell people who are coming that the best candles are in glass jars, and to let them burn down a bit before arriving, so the wind will not blow them out so easily. You can glue sonograms or pictures to the outside, or use paint pens to decorate them.
One small precaution I take is to buy a bag of electric tea lights just in case we are approached and asked to extinguish our candles. Some city ordinances don’t allow it, especially if there is a burn ban in effect.
I have a list of music that I burn to a special CD and play. I start it at 7:00 and it lasts exactly one hour. These songs are listed in the “Angel Songs” box over on the right hand side. You can listen to snippets right there.
Don’t be intimidated or afraid. Grab a friend, light some candles, and invite others. My little candle lighting has gone from just our little trio to about thirty people in just three years.
If you need more help, join Robyn’s Walks and Memorials Organizational Yahoo Group, where we talk about what we’re doing and get listed on her site.