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Finding hope after infant loss: Derika’s story
A profound personal loss six years ago compelled Senior Director Derika Hacker to make a difference for others.
In 2012, Derika gave birth to her third son, Caleb, who was stillborn. Since then, she's been sharing her story with other moms and families.
"This is a silent grief that affects 25% of women," she says. Her mission is to help all women and families feel comfort and peace after the loss of an infant.
Breaking the silence
While not often talked about, infant and pregnancy loss are heartbreakingly common. The March of Dimes estimates that among women who know they are pregnant, about 10%-15% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. In addition, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that each year about 24,000 babies are stillborn in the United States.
A staggering 1 in 4 women will experience miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss in her lifetime. Families coping with grief after such a loss should know that they are not alone, and there are organizations available to help.
For the past four years, Derika has worked with infant loss organizations that offer monthly support groups, family activities, meals, house cleaning and counseling to grieving parents and families, such as:
- Griefshare, which offers support groups, seminars and emails to people experiencing loss
- Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, which provides free, professional remembrance photography to parents suffering the loss of a baby
- The TEARS Foundation, which offers bereaved parents financial assistance in making funeral arrangements
- The Finley Project, a free, five-year healing program for mothers grieving the loss of an infant
A mission of healing and hope
The Gives mission is one of the main reasons Derika joined Thirty-One Gifts seven years ago.
"My heart's natural inclination is to care for those who are hurting or have a need. This is something that comes naturally for me and I believe God has equipped me with the gifts to organize, manage and execute plans to carry out my heart's passion," she says.
She encourages women who want to give back to their communities to ask themselves two questions: What am I passionate about? What skills and talents do I have?
"When you're able to combine your natural gifting along with a passion of heart, you will be amazed at how 'volunteer work' doesn't feel like work at all! Using my skills to propel the passions of my heart forward invigorates me, blesses me and multiplies the impact of a ministry on my community," she says.
Share your support for infant loss awareness
You can help break the silence surrounding pregnancy loss and infant loss by displaying the characteristic two-tone advocacy ribbon in pink and blue. It can start the conversation and help others recognize the loss experienced by so many parents around the world. Pair the ribbon with a name, date or phrase that invites conversation and healing:
- Pregnancy & infant loss awareness
- Forever in my heart
- I carry you with me
- I am the 1 in 4
If you know someone who is experiencing the loss of a pregnancy or infant, reach out to let them know they are not alone. If it feels right, a thoughtful care package could let them know they’re in your thoughts and start to offer some comfort during the most difficult time of their lives. Items to include could be:
- A handwritten card
- Sweet-smelling candle
- Non-caffeinated tea bags
- A journal
- A good book
- Bubble bath
- Gift card for a restaurant, meal delivery service or housecleaning service
Whatever you choose to do, remember that your time and caring are the most important things to share with those who are grieving. Consider, too, supporting or volunteering with infant loss organizations in your area to help other families in need.