Thunder Bay

Candlelighting ceremony honours grief of pregnancy, infant loss that 'never goes away'

People mourning the loss of a pregnancy or the death of a baby are invited to a special candlelighting ceremony Monday night at Marina Park in Thunder Bay. The northwestern Ontario city is joining an international effort to create a continuous chain of light, spanning the globe to mark Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.

Miscarriages, stillbirths often shrouded in shame, silence says member of Thunder Bay prenatal coalition

People in Thunder Bay, Ont., are invited to attend a candlelighting ceremony as part of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day on Oct. 15 at 6:45 p.m. at the Spirit Garden on the waterfront. (Thunder Bay Prenatal Coalition)

People mourning the loss of a pregnancy or the death of a baby are invited to a special candlelighting ceremony Monday night at Marina Park in Thunder Bay.

The northwestern Ontario city is joining an international effort to create a continuous chain of light, spanning the globe to mark Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.

The grief people feel over a miscarriage or stillbirth is "just something people don't feel comfortable talking about," said Margaret Hajdinjak, a member of Thunder Bay's multi-agency prenatal coalition.

Monday's inaugural event in the city gives people the opportunity to acknowledge that pain.

Stigma, shame, silence

"It's associated with a stigma, silence, possibly shame that parents might be feeling that they've done something wrong, that their baby has miscarried or there's been a stillbirth or they've lost them right after delivery," she said.

As well, friends and other family members often stumble, looking for "the right thing to say."

"People will say 'at least you have two other children' or 'at least you can have more', but really when you do lose a child, and if it's a miscarriage people will think it isn't really a baby, but a loss is a loss for the mother and dad experiencing that," said Hajdinjak, who speaks from experience.

Just over three decades ago, she delivered twins at 26-weeks gestation, and they died shortly after their birth. Then, just a few months later, she miscarried another set of twins.

"There's always those what-ifs, what would they be doing right now, where would they be in their lives right now.- Margaret Hajdinjak , Thunder Bay Prenatal Coalition

"It never goes away," said Hajdinjak. "There's always those what-ifs, what would they be doing right now, where would they be in their lives right now."

She said she always finds it helpful and healing to share her story with other people who have experienced a similar death, and she hopes others can find that kind of support at Monday's event.

The candlelighting service begins at 6:45 p.m. at the Spirit Garden on Thunder Bay's waterfront.