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A Ritual for Miscarriage

A Ritual for Miscarriage

There are many griefs we don’t speak about. Miscarriage is one of those. When women desiring children see the double lines they had been hoping for, it’s joyous: we’re pregnant! Laying on the ultrasound table, listening to those undulating whale-like ocean tones, the murmurs of a heartbeat, the eager confirmation of new life growing.

But then one day, that particular sound doesn’t come. And no amount of willing the technician to give it more time, or to check the machine again, changes reality. It’s not our fault. There is nothing we could have done to prevent it. Miscarriage is the body’s response to chromosomal abnormalities. Women who lose pregnancies often remain attached to the idea of that lost child still being in their lives.

There is a distinct kind of isolation that follows when miscarriages are kept private. Some people don’t want their grief to feel like a burden to anyone, some blame themselves, some try to make light if it. Some people numb over—it’s no big deal, just move on. So they carry it alone, and go about the business of living.

Remember that a miscarriage has many of the same hormonal after effects as a live birth. It takes months before hormone levels in the body normalize to a pre-pregnancy state, so mood and energy levels are often disrupted. So go easy on yourself.

A personal ritual in a time of reconciling a loss can help the spirit and the body heal. The intention is to acknowledge that we can hold joy and sorrow within us at the same time. By honoring this complexity, we create a safe space to express whatever we’re feeling in that moment and to help integrate the experiences.

Try this simple quiet time daily, for as many weeks or months as you need.

Light a candle, close your eyes, and say: “My grief flows through me, and out of me.” Notice the pulsing of your heartbeat. Allow the mind to roam freely.

What comes up may surprise you. Sometimes it might be sadness; at other times, there’s just relief for having a moment to breathe with deeper intention. Maybe nothing comes up.

Just taking the space to be more connected to the process of healing by allowing ourselves space to integrate our feelings, and allowing this tender place to exist.

Close the ritual in gratitude for the gift of time you have given yourself. Refrain from statements like “this too shall pass”—although it shall. The point is to accept, acknowledge, and encourage yourself wherever you may be at that moment, and to meet it with love.

There is no right way to grieve, and there is no single answer on how fertility losses, or any loss, will affect a person. But knowing it’s okay, healthy, and necessary to express your emotions is important.

The above is an excerpt from "Reverence: Creating Ritual in Modern Life."