Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day (PAIL) is October 15th, and ends an annual week-long period of remembering babies lost too soon, to factors that include miscarriage, stillbirth, sudden infant death syndrome, and death caused by birth defects. 

To admire, honor and uplift the families that have been affected Taylor Jones- artist, actress, teacher and director– presents a free community healing event on PAIL evening at Leaf Me Plant Boutique in Hamtramck, to honor and uplift parents who go through this tragedy. 

Her baby Kaysen was born sleeping five years ago, and since then she says she has strived to create a healing space open to not only women, but men and other non-female members of the family reeling from loss.

“Mourning lost pregnancy and reproductive issues isn’t reserved for women’s only spaces.  When we’re  alone, deep in our grief, those distorted views and fragmented statements from those around us are on repeat in our heads, haunting us, leading to prolonged silence and a lack of hope. If a mother feels that, the father does too.” 

According to the March Of Dimes, a leading organization in the fight for women and baby health, say that about 10 to 15 percent of 100 pregnancies end in miscariage in the first 20 weeks, with 24,000 being stillborn each year.  Skewing the data to examine Black babies, we see that Black mothers are twice as likely as their white counterparts to die in childbirth. According to the Centers for Disease Control,  Black women have a 43% higher chance of experiencing a miscarriage.

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On the flip side, that means that Black MEN have a higher chance of experiencing miscarriage or pregnancy complications. Oftentimes the consoling and comfort goes gracily to the mother of the child, but what about the father? Information is readily available about how to support a Black woman through the loss but not so much on how to help Black men who were supposed to be dads, but weren’t. 

“When my wife lost our first baby, I wasn’t sure how I should feel for a long time. It almost didn’t feel like I was allowed to be sad or angry, because that would have made her worse or feel guilty, but it didn’t mean I felt none of it. Keeping it inside messed me up for a long time,” says Barrett Doris, a Detroit resident and father of two boys. 

Black men are taught to be strong, to never cry, to uplift his family and never let them see him struggle. If a child has passed on too soon, both parents suffer a loss of themselves and it’s important we begin to usher in a safe space for our men to feel free to grieve and heal. 

Men and Miscarriage: A Systematic Review and Thematic Synthesis, surveyed 231 men of all races and quoted them saying things like, “I felt just a total frustration and anguish at being totally helpless, at something that you really wanted so much, a family, sort of slipping away from you and you can’t do anything about it.” 

Another said, “I hid my feelings. Usually, I had my little breakdowns either on my own time when my wife wasn’t there, like on the drive to work, during the morning when my wife was still upstairs asleep, or late at night.”

NCBI completed a study on Black parents specifically and found that after pregnancy loss, Black men experienced “feelings of shock, going crazy, being irritable and ready to fight with others, and blaming themselves.” They were also more likely to have suicidal thoughts and feel out of control of their surroundings. 

We can help Black men open up about their pregnancy loss by acknowledging that they lost a child. If you know a Black man who lost a child, be mindful of their situation. Understand their loss of hopes, dreams, and future plans. Give them your undivided attention and ask them how you can better serve them in their grieving process. As time goes on, check in on their mental health. Grieving comes in waves and as part of their support system its important to be there to help them navigate its rocky waters. 

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