Perinatal Bereavement Awareness Day: Q&A with Liberal MNA Désirée McGraw

"This is a first step," says Quebec Liberal MNA Désirée McGraw as October 15th will be known as Perinatal Bereavement Awareness Day or Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. Swidda Rassy reports.

In Quebec, October 15th will be known as Perinatal Bereavement Awareness Day or Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.

CityNews sat down with one of the key figures who made this happen, Liberal MNA Désirée McGraw.

So you table the Bill. Tell us why this is so close to your hearts?

“Yes. So I also have had experience with perinatal loss, both five miscarriages and then in addition to that a stillborn daughter, Catherine. So for our family, myself, my husband, and our three sons…we feel that this is Catherine’s law, but really it’s a law for all of those families, those 23,000 Quebec families a year in honour of their loved ones, their little ones who are lost forever. So, it’s based on a personal experience and I wanted to raise awareness about this and destigmatize a complex loss. And frankly, since then I’ve heard from so many people across both in my riding across Quebec and even across Canada, people near and far bearing their own stories and their own family either growing up or their own families that they’re creating now. It is not an uncommon experience, but unfortunately it’s not really talked about. People don’t necessarily know how to talk about it. So hopefully we’ve opened a space where people can be seen and heard and feel supported.”

The Bill passed unanimously in the National Assembly last Thursday. Take us back to that moment. What was going through your mind?

“To be honest, I was unprepared for the level of support to have your colleagues, not just in your caucus, but the entire National Assembly, every standing up voting yes. And then there was a standing ovation and then I really feel I know that politics is often an extreme sport and people often see the cut and thrust of it. But this was really one such a special moment for me and I hope for others to see that we can really come together around our shared humanity, put aside partisanship and stand strong together. So it was quite an amazing feeling and also just as you may know, it’s very rare for a government to accept, let alone adopt a Bill that’s presented by an opposition member. It happens every few years. And so I’m also very proud that the whole National Assembly was able to come together and this was the first Bill that our Liberals that we were able to present and have adopted. So I feel quite proud of that as well on behalf of our team.”

What should Quebec residents expect with this Bill and what would you like to see moving forward?

“So this is a first step. It was a necessary but far from sufficient first step. And so now created this space and that this is an officially recognized day, which hopefully as I say, creates a space and families can feel supported and not alone and seen. And studies show that when people are seen and their grief and their loss is witnessed, it actually helps the grieving process. So there’s that but there’s a lot of concrete steps we need to do to support parents. For example, if one has a miscarriage before 20 weeks, you’re expected back at work the next day. So we need benefits to support mothers. We also need benefits to support fathers who have experienced perinatal loss through the whole process, whether it be, you know, earlier in the pregnancy later or of course after birth. So we need greater supports but also the healthcare system. I know that when I was in the hospital and delivering Catherine, I had to deliver her, I could see some of the nurses were just, you know, I didn’t sign up for the maternity ward. So we also need to support healthcare healthcare workers. And so the benefits for the parents, the support in the system, we need more research on this because it is a complex form of grief. And I’m looking forward to working, continuing to work with other parties and experts and stakeholders and families to move this forward to make sure that we adopt legislation that is informed by the realities of families here in Quebec.”

Top Stories

Top Stories