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Every year around this time, as the seasons start to change and a chill tinges the air, I’m reminded of one of the most bittersweet events I attend all year: The International Wave of Light, a memorial part of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.
The Wave of Light memorializes babies lost too soon, and as a mother of four sweet babies who left this world before they had ever seen it, it’s a time for me to remember them and share them with the world.
It’s also a time for me to grieve with other parents and families who have been through the same earth-shattering event.
I’m so glad that Wave of Light is a part of my life, a part of our community, and a blessing to so many parents grieving their babies.
In this article, I’ll explain:
- What, exactly, the Wave of Light is,
- How you can (very) easily take part in it,
- Why it is so important,
- And where to order commemorative candles if you’d like to do something a little extra special for yourself or for someone who has experienced miscarriage or infant loss.
What is the Wave of Light?
The International Wave of Light is an event for loved ones, friends, and supporting organizations (like Undefining Motherhood) to come together and honor babies gone too soon and to support their parents and families.
The original impetus for the event, which is also celebrated in tandem with Baby Loss Awareness Week and Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, was President Ronald Reagan’s support for parents who have suffered from child loss.
On October 15, 1988, President Reagan proclaimed the month of October “Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.”
By doing so, Reagan gave a national platform for awareness and advocacy to the private grief that many parents share. He also gave us a formal space in which to honor the memories of our children.
The Wave of Light event commemorates the end of Baby Loss Awareness Week, which always ends on October 15th.
You can think of it as the closing ceremony of Baby Loss Awareness Week–a time when candles and lights are lit around the world to celebrate our babies who were taken from us far too soon.
You Can Participate as Simply or as Elaborately as You’d Like
The concept of Wave of Light is fairly simple: all you have to do is light a candle at 7pm (your local time) and keep it burning for one hour.
I usually light one candle for each of my four losses, but that is completely up to you. If you only have one candle but want to commemorate multiple losses, that’s okay, too!
As candles are lit in each time zone, the literal wave of light is passed from one time zone to the next. The light doesn’t go out even after your own candles have burned out.
In creating this literal Wave of Light, we collectively mark the short flame of our babies’ lives. But we also acknowledge the collective impact that they had–and STILL have–on us as parents, family, and friends of babies lost.
How do I Take Part in the Wave of Light?
Taking part in the Wave of Light 2020 is very easy.
In pre-Covid times you might have gathered with an organization or with your extended family, but now the wave will be held virtually.
To participate, you light a candle at 7pm local time and leave it burning (under supervision) for one hour. If you would prefer to light a lamp or perhaps a nightlight, that is totally fine, too.
There are no hard and fast rules for the wave of light–it’s simply about engaging collectively to honor our children’s lives and their lasting memories.
If you are so inclined, you can take a picture of your candle or whatever you have chosen to light and post it to social media with the hashtag, #WaveOfLight.
You can also search this hashtag to see photos and memories that other parents, friends, and family share.
Bottom line: it’s incredibly powerful to participate in this event, and it’s easy to do. We encourage you to join us, whether you prefer to remain private with your lighting or to publicly share it on social media.
The choice is up to you!
Join Our Virtual Wave of Light
To take part in our virtual Wave of Light Celebration, click here and add your child’s name to our list to be read aloud.
You can also post photos of your own candles and tag us @undefiningmotherhood or using #undefiningmotherhood.
Social Media Templates
We’ve created special graphics for you to use to show your candles and honor your little ones. Add one of these to your Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook feeds.
Please tag us in your stories so we can support you.
To add a photo to your Instagram or Facebook stories, consider using one of these graphics. Please tag us in your stories so we can support you.
Why is the Wave of Light so Important?
Our community exists because miscarriage and the trauma that can follow have remained taboo subjects for far too long.
In order to shift this paradigm, we strongly believe in miscarriage memorials.
Rituals and memorials allow for closure for parents and family (as much as that can be achieved), and they allow us to honor lives that deserve it.
If you feel alone after a miscarriage, you are certainly NOT alone in feeling that way.
We encourage you to memorialize your loss in whatever way feels right for you, but please also know that Wave of Light exists to help you feel less singular in your grief.
During the International Wave of Light, you will be joining thousands of parents and supporters from all over the world in keeping the memories of our babies alive.
As the wave of light travels around the world, we acknowledge that grief isn’t meant to be carried alone.
Wave of Light Candles
If you’ve read this description of Wave of Light and want to participate, please join us with whatever candle or light you have at home.
Some mamas (or friends and family of loss parents) like to buy commemorative candles for the event and use them for at least a few years.
Here are some of our very favorite commemorative candles you can use during the Wave of Light or just when you need your own personal moment of remembrance.
Angel Memorial Candles
Sweet and delicate. It has a light vanilla scent and is made from environmentally-friendly soy wax.
If you’re a family member or a friend of someone who lost a child, you can also have it gift wrapped and sent to your loved one.
An adorably sweet way to honor a baby lost. This one holds a tea candle, and it is handmade!
It also comes with an ebook to help parents learn to better express feelings of loss.
Sentimental Keepsake Candles
Not religious or into angels? No problem.
Uses a (secular) Gandhi quotation to perfectly capture how loss parents often feel: “There are no goodbyes for us. Wherever you are, you will always be in my heart.”
There will be many times where loss parents feel they cannot carry on, but lighting this candle during the Wave of Light is a wonderful reminder that there are so many of us who are carrying on as bravely as we possibly can.
Want personalization? You have plenty of options, and these personalized candles can be so healing.
Include your child’s name on the candle. We love the quotation included on the candle’s label: “Precious. Loved. Remembered.”
A great way to stay short, simple, but also full of meaning. This one comes in a sweetly wrapped box and is personalized with your child’s name.
You can also customize the colors of the box/label.
What is your favorite way to celebrate the International Wave of Light?
Other Miscarriage Articles
- Types of miscarriage
- Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month
- Miscarriage support groups
- Miscarriage books
- Miscarriage ornaments
- Miscarriage memorials
- Missed miscarriage stories
- Katy’s recurrent miscarriage story
- Beth’s ectopic pregnancy story
- Faith’s termination for medical reasons (TFMR)
- Arden’s misoprostol experience
- Katy’s blighted ovum story
Other Loss Stories
Katy Huie Harrison, PhD, is an author, mom, recurrent miscarriage survivor, & owner of Undefining Motherhood. She lives in Atlanta with her husband (affectionately known on the internet as “Husband,”) son (Jack), and dog (Charlotte). She believes our society puts too many expectations on women that make womanhood and motherhood restrictive. Her goal is to shift the paradigm about what it means to be a woman and mother, giving all women a greater sense of agency over their own lives. You can find Katy and her work featured in places like CNN’s Headline News, Romper, Scary Mommy, Demeter Press’s Motherhood and Social Exclusion, & more.