In the same way that we honor other emotional changes in our lives – marriage, birth, death – holding a ceremony after a miscarriage can play an important role in the healing process.
There is a ceremony in Japan that takes place to mark a miscarriage: mizuko kuyo. ‘Mizuko’ literally translates to ‘water child’ and ‘kuyo‘ means memorial service.
The ceremony is usually performed by a Buddhist monk, and an offering is made to Jizo, a Buddhist deity that looks over children.
Jizo statues are often quite child-like in appearance and, in some way, represent the unborn child. Often the offering is represented by a red bib or cap that is put on the statue. Variations of the Buddhist ritual have caught on in North America Zen centers.
Despite the fact that 10-20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, marking it is still something that is rarely done. Instead, it is usually endured in private physical and emotional pain, rarely talked about outside the privacy of one’s own walls.
Each person experiences a loss in their own way and will want to find a ritual or ceremony that speaks to them. It may be something done as an individual, a couple, or as something to share with family and friends. However it is done, it should be thought of as a part of the healing process.
Here are some ways you can mark a miscarriage to help you or a loved one through the difficult time:
A ceremony can provide a structure and path to follow, which can be helpful during an emotional time. Make it something to do on your own or with your partner, friends, and family. Do it in a place that feels comforting to you — your home or a place of worship, or somewhere outside in nature. You may wish to incorporate one or some of the ideas below that speak to you.
Prayer, either on your own or in your place of worship, can offer comfort and guidance in a time of sorrow.
Create a painting, a drawing, a sculpture that represents your loss and your baby. The act of creating can be an incredible emotional outlet, allowing you to express yourself with limitless possibilities, colors and textures.
4. A Reading
Find prose, a passage, or a poem that resonates with you. Read it aloud or have someone else read it.
Write a letter or a poem to your baby, or just write about your own feelings during this time. Writing down your thoughts and feelings is a useful tool in dealing with swirling thoughts.
6. Altar or a candle
Light a candle or create a little space with keepsakes that represent your loss, be it an ultrasound image or a poem you wrote.
Music and song are powerful and have a way of accessing emotions like nothing else. Play a recording, sing, or have someone else perform a song that touches you as a tribute or goodbye to your baby.
A physical keepsake, like a bracelet or necklace charm, can be a tangible way to commemorate your baby and can be something you can carry with you.
Plant a flower or a tree in a pot or your yard, and watch it grow over the years.
Marking a miscarriage honors what your heart and body have been through. Not only does it acknowledge your feelings of loss, but it also validates these feelings, and allows you to say goodbye.