VICENZA, Italy (October 18, 2018) - Pregnancy or infant loss can be a devastating experience for everyone who was looking forward to welcoming a new member to the family.

Yet, while everyone talks ad infinitum about most things pregnancy and baby related, many keep mum when it comes to loss. This silence masks not only how common loss actually is (between 10-15 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, and roughly 1 percent end in stillbirth), but can make those who experience it feel utterly alone.

Families who have experienced any of these events can find solace and companionship in Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, which happens annually on Oct. 15 and involves creating a wave of light as, across the world, people light candles at 7 p.m. local time. This year, for the first time, the Family Advocacy Program sponsored Wave of Light at Hoekstra Field on Caserma Ederle, a gathering to take part in this international opportunity for reflection and commemoration.

"We have had some difficult losses in our community, especially recently, and we organized this event to support these families," said Kayla Wilson, BSN, RN, CLC, from the New Parent Support Program. She continued, "It is important to take the time as a community to cherish the impact that our children have had on our lives, regardless of how long we had with them."

Families gathered under candlelight for a light dinner, heartfelt and supportive speeches, and arts and crafts for kids.

Wilson introduced the event and shared her relevant personal and professional experience. Family member Rebecca Schmidt, who originally inquired about the possibility of holding such an event, courageously described the circumstances that led to her own family's loss. And, finally Chaplain (Lt. Col.) James J. Peak, provided emotional and spiritual support.

Then, in accordance with the tradition of the day, at 7 p.m., participants stood in a circle and lit candles one by one around the circle until Hoekstra Field wash awash with light.

Family Advocacy Program Manager Janine Harper reflected on the event: "This was an event that the Family Advocacy Program fully supports and it was very touching to see the positive impact this had on our community. Grief and loss of a child is something that the New Parent Support nurses and MFLC (military family life counselors) are experts in supporting, and we hope people continue to reach out for support. We received so many heartfelt appreciations from all that with the community support we will be hosting it again next year."

Supported by the motto "There is no footprint too small that it will not leave an imprint on this world," this unique, touching, and well-attended event provided a beautiful way for community members to come together, realize they are not alone, and provide and receive much-needed support.

If you have experienced infant or pregnancy loss and are looking for support, please contact any of the many services available in our community including your chaplain, MFLAC or behavioral health professionals. There are also various web resources, to include www.october15.com or www.nofootprinttoosmall.com.

Phone numbers that may be helpful are as follows:
Family Advocacy at Army Community Service: DSN 734-7500
MFLC ACS: 333-489-8967
MFLC 1st and 2nd battalions, 503rd Infantry Regiment: 345-077-0476; MFLC 173rd Brigade Engineer Bn./Bde. Support Bn.: 347-229-3781.

(Contributed by USAG Italy FAP)