Each year on Oct. 15, the International Wave of Light is held on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. Participants around the world light a candle at 7 p.m. in their timezone and leave it burning for at least an hour.
In municipalities, bridges, towers, and other buildings are illuminated with pink, blue, or purple in honour of the babies that passed away during pregnancy and infancy. The result is a continuous chain of light spanning the globe for a 24-hour period.
For the last five years in Newmarket, an event has been held for those who have dealt with this type of loss to come together. The organization behind it will be hosting its first flag raising in Bradford this week.
“One in every four pregnancies ends in a stillbirth or a miscarriage, which is a shocking thing to absorb,” said Liz Moore co-chair of the Wave of Light in Newmarket. “There’s a lack of support available to families and so many people experience what they describe as a silent grief. If your grandparent or friend dies, you talk about it, but nobody talks about this. It’s almost like a hidden shame.”
On Oct. 15, at 7 p.m. the Davis Drive Bridge, Fred Lundy Bridge, and the York Region clocktowers are lit up to educate on the Wave of Light and Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.
“It helps bring awareness and honour families who have been through this,” said Moore. “We now hold a service in Newmarket for families who are grieving. Last year a woman came, and she had lost her baby 35 years ago and she started crying when she saw it in the newspaper because, for 35 years, she had carried that grief and hoped and prayed there would be an opportunity and said she couldn’t believe when she read about it.”
The service begins at 7 p.m. at the Newmarket River Walk Commons on Oct. 15 and includes music, poems, and ends with sending paper lanterns to float with the lost baby’s names written on them.
“It’s a moving tribute for families,” said Moore.
With Southlake Regional Health Centre serving both Newmarket and Bradford, Moore began talks pre-COVID with the town on bringing a similar service to Bradford.
“The flag raising was suggested in the meantime,” said Moore. “It’s very early stages for Bradford and this is to raise awareness in the Town of Bradford."
Learn more about the Wave of Light and the upcoming ceremony here.