The Importance of Ceremony for Baby Loss
The Importance of Ceremony for Baby Loss.
Death is a normal part of life, it is part of our natural cycle, it is inevitable for every living being on earth. Yet why do we not address it openly, why is this western world so closed to discussion around it? We wear black to funerals as though its the worst thing in the world, it is undoubtedly the worst feeling we can experience.
We need space to grieve, and time to celebrate the life we are grieving for. Death is heart wrenching when we loose a loved one, it hurts like no other experience in life. Especially the loss of a child that had a future and hope, a child we have grown in our wombs. It is the hardest most painful, unexplainable experience for any parent. For this very reason we should be holding the parents around us experiencing loss , supporting them, allowing time to grieve. even when pregnancy ends at 8 weeks gestation, it doesnt hurt any less just because it was young, the dream was big, the little life had a huge impact already on those lives it touched, touched our soul, and was a part of our dreams.
As a doula I have supported a number of women through baby loss through the use of ceremony and ritual, but also as a listening ear. Im finding naturally the longer I work as a doula and celebrant more women are coming to me for ceremony for healing, grieving, self care, and funerary.
Ceremony and ritual is something we are lacking in this modern world, we are expected to just carry on, to take time off work ourselves, to look after our own health, our own mental health. There are rarely follow up appointments for miscarriage, and terminations. A phone call to ask if you are ok in many cases, and then we go back to work and the experience is over, no more discussion...closed. Well, in my opinion that is really wrong, we should be holding our parents as they grieve, giving them space to talk, supporting them for forty days ideally like a parent who reached full term with a living baby. Why are we not doing this?
Many cultures come togther, and hold ceremony to allow grief, humans are sentient, community beings, we thrive of being in groups, we thrive off love, touch, support, community. Our entire make up is to live within a community setting. Therefore we need to support parents through grief as a community. Ceremony is a huge part of community for many indigous cultures. Within many cultures a grieving parent grieves with their community, because the loss is a loss for the whole community. Here in the uk we grieve alone.
Ceremony and ritual is something we lack, we are so busy with our lives we dont have time for it, we have also lost our connection to these important life rites. Death is a rite of passage for the soul having transitioned through it, and grief in my feeling is a rite of passage for those left grieving. We need to support it. Rites of passage are about change, transition, and need supporting and holding. Many women that go through the loss of a baby whether at 8 weeks gestation or at 40 weeks, or after birth, as in many cases not offered extra ongoing support to open up discussion, for support or healing. A ceremony can be created, and adapted to hold space for grief.
As a doula i hear a lot that changing society starts with birth and supporting parents. My teacher Rocio Alarcon, Ethnobotanist and healer, says the woman is the heart of the community. If women are the heart then we should be supporting with as much support as we are trying to offer for birth to build stronger communities, grow stronger roots. Every trauma in life affects us, and can cause separation of parts of our soul, or emotion, we learn to not face the trauma, and then continue with life with aspects of ourselves broken.
By creating space for healthy healing, for our prayers to be heard, and space for grieving through ceremony we can help our community hearts, our mothers, to future generations, stay strong and whole.