Calgary support centre helping families grieve after pregnancy and infant loss

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month

By Leanne Murray | October 3, 2022 |5:00 am

The Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support Centre offers no-cost services to help through the grief journey.

Photo: Mecoh Bain

It’s estimated that one in four known pregnancies end in loss, a number that is under the microscope as October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.

Aditi Loveridge founded the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support Centre (PILSC) in Calgary almost four years ago.

“It was the universe guiding me and a lot of my own personal and professional experience that led me to this place,” Loveridge says.

Ten years ago, Loveridge lost two pregnancies. Her third pregnancy led to her living child, who is now nine years old.

“I knew that I wanted to change how people were supported,” she says.

“Because when I went through it, there was only one type of support, which was through Alberta Health Services. And it was one social worker that served the entire city.”

A gap in support

Loveridge says the gap in services for pregnancy and infant loss sent a message to the community that it was something that didn’t need support.

Her previous career experience was in social work and after going through her own losses, Loveridge started a coaching business to help people through pregnancy and infant loss.

She then started hosting social connection events in Calgary and a common discussion revolved around the gaps in support and how more assistance was needed.

Loveridge was thinking about starting a support centre and decided to take the plunge after meeting with Dr. Stephanie Cooper, a high-risk OBGYN in Calgary, who agreed that one was needed.

“Not only did I see the need as a bereaved parent myself, and the community saw that there was a need, but also a health care provider on the other side of it also felt that there was more need for community support,” Loveridge says.

Offering free services

Since the PILSC is a registered charity and relies on donations, it offers its programming free of charge.

There is a peer support helpline, one-on-one peer mentorship, support groups, and professional counselling and coaching.

“Specialized professional support is definitely needed and definitely valued in this space, but I would say the number one grief recovery tool in this community is peer support,” Loveridge says.

“That connection to others and knowing that you’re not alone in this is really, really powerful.”

The PILSC offers peer support through the grief process.

Support through the whole journey

Loveridge says the support goes beyond the initial grief period and families are supported through their entire journey.

“Trying to conceive, pregnant again, and parenting post-loss,” she adds.

“Some people will go on to have children. Some people will not. Pregnancy after loss is a very anxiety-driven time for many families. So all of those parts of the journey deserve to be supported.”

The PILSC also supports a diversity of loss experiences.

“We support miscarriages, stillbirths, neonatal loss, termination for medical reasons. We also have a post-abortion group,” Loveridge says, adding those navigating fertility journeys can reach out to the centre for assistance as well.

No-cost comfort boxes

The PILSC recently started offering free comfort boxes to anyone in Alberta or Saskatchewan who has experienced a loss within the last six months.

“All of the businesses [comfort items are curated from] are female-identifying entrepreneurs and 85 per cent of the businesses are Black, Indigenous, People of Colour because that’s an important piece for us to elevate those voices,” says Loveridge.

In November, the PILSC is hosting the Bereave with Me Conference, which is open to anyone navigating grief and proceeds will help fund the support centre programming.

Loveridge says there will be immersive workshops to promote healing through mind, body, and spirit.

“It’s really going to allow people the opportunity to connect with different modalities and see what resonates for them,” Loveridge says.

“Because I know that the only thing that heals this journey and heals grief is for you to actually go through it. So this is a very immersive experience for those who are wanting to build some tools.”

Being there through a loss

If someone you know is grieving a pregnancy or infant, Loveridge discourages using the phrase “I’m sorry for your loss”.

“I find that that sentence is kind of a platitude and it’s very disconnecting. There’s no real conversation that can happen after that,” she says.

Instead, she says it’s important to acknowledge the loss and let the person know you’re there to talk if and when needed, saying things like “Thank you for sharing that with me” and “I’m here for you”.

Loveridge says it’s okay to not have the right words.

“Validating people through this experience is really powerful. You don’t have to have magic words. I think just showing up with the desire to just be there is a lot.”

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Leanne Murray

Leanne is a Calgary Citizen reporter.

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