Listen: Katrina Roe shares about her own miscarriage experiences, and chats to Trish Thomas, organiser of the ‘Choosing Hope Remembrance Walk’ for people who have gone through infant loss.
A decade after her miscarriage, a mother stands by a lakeside and finally names her child—who, if he’d lived, would now be 10 years old.
Nearby, another woman – who miscarried 35 years ago – is brought to tears hearing her lost baby’s name spoken in public for the first time.
They are with a group of men and women, gathered to share closely-held secrets, place flowers on the lake, and bond over their common grief: the loss of a baby. The moving event they’re at is called the ‘Choosing Hope Remembrance Walk’, an annual walk on the Central Coast organised by Bears of Hope—a support group for families affected by stillbirth and miscarriage.
The walk recognises the one in four pregnancies that end in heartbreak, and gives parents a chance to remember the babies they never got to meet.
The Loneliest Time
Event organiser Trish Thomas told Hope 103.2 that losing an infant before birth – she has lost two – can be an extremely lonely experience.
“It was a really upsetting and isolating time,” she said of her first miscarriage. “I didn’t really share about it with anybody, as I was 10 weeks and not many people knew [I was pregnant]. We had only just told our family. We didn’t really tell anybody else until a few months later when I found the courage to talk to people about it.”
She miscarried again last year, this time at 20 weeks, due to a car accident. It was equally heartbreaking, but she was overwhelmed with support this time, because all her friends knew about the pregnancy.
The Difference it Makes When Your Loss is Acknowledged
Trish told Hope 103.2’s Katrina Roe that support and simple acknowledgment makes a big difference.
“It was profound really,” she said. “It was wonderful [hearing] people say ‘I’m so sorry’. They’d share their own story with me… I have two living children as well, so one person said that I was a ‘mum of four’, and it just took my breath away because she had acknowledged that I did have four children [even though] you might only see two. It helps the soul, helps the heart, when people make it known that those babies existed and they mattered to you.”
“It helps the heart when people make it known that those babies existed and they mattered to you.”
Even women who are decades on from their miscarriage may appreciate acknowledgment of their lost babies. Hope 103.2 caller Fran said she lost her first baby at 16 weeks, more than 20 years ago—but the pain remains.
“It’s horrible, it is a loss,” she said. “It sort of fades but it’s always there. They’re waiting for us [in heaven].”
What to Say When Your Friend has a Miscarriage or Stillbirth
While there is no magic formula for ‘what to say’ when someone has a miscarriage or stillbirth, it’s better to say something than nothing. Hope 103.2 announcer Katrina Roe has sadly experienced seven miscarriages herself, and says the grief can be overwhelming—and the silence unbearable.
“Don’t say nothing, don’t pretend it didn’t happen,” she said. “Say something that expresses that they have experienced a loss, and that it is a really tough time.”
Katrina adds that some comments can be hurtful, and the best rule of thumb is to not try and brush your friend’s pain away.
“The things that hurt are when [people] try to make you feel better as if it’s not really a big deal, like, ‘You’ll have another one’, or ‘It wasn’t meant to be’, or, ‘At least you didn’t know them’, or, ‘Maybe you wouldn’t have coped with the baby’,” she explains.
“Say something that’s similar to what you would say if their grandfather aunty or parent had died. Just, ‘I’m really sorry about your loss’, or, ‘I heard you’ve been having a really tough time, I’m sorry to hear that, is there anything I can do?’ Just a simple acknowledgment is really all it takes.”
Katrina says losing a child is different for everyone: “Some people bounce right back, but others find they’re shaken to their very core with an unexpressed grief.”
For her, the experience was different each time.
“Some were far more traumatic than others,” she says of her own lost babies. “But they were all devastating in their own way.”
A Peaceful Way to Remember
Trish Thomas got involved with the Choosing Hope walk because, like many women who lose a child, she wanted to make her son’s life ‘matter’.
“God showed me [the idea of] a remembrance walk,” she said. “I thought, ‘Everyone loves the water, let’s come to the water and walk and remember’. It’s pensive, peaceful, beautiful. The goal is to talk about it so that people aren’t feeling isolated and alone.
“I wanted other people to be able to make that same acknowledgment, to say ‘I had a baby, and I lost a baby, and I loved my baby.”