Pregnancy Loss Awareness Month: Grief & Ritual
Posted by Dr. Alda Ngo
Guestpost for Olive Fertility
October is Pregnancy Loss Awareness Month & studies show that this kind of reproductive trauma can lead to complex grief.
Miscarriage & stillbirth stigma can contribute to a lack of cultural infrastructure to navigate it. In my own experience of pregnancy losses, I had to learn a kind of grief literacy to face the loss.
On my first trip to Vietnam, I met my mother’s family for the 1st time & it was the anniversary of my Ba Ngoai’s (grandma’s) passing. We acknowledged this with ceremony & ritual – a container for expression of all the feelings: sadness, frustration, anger, love, gratitude, peace & even joy & happiness.
We chanted & ate & burned things & I had the privilege of standing in the doorway of our home with a beautiful bamboo cage full of tiny birds from the market & I released them all into the sky. So moving! One of the village monks explained to me that this symbolized setting the heaviness of our hearts aflight to help release my grandma from the weight of our grief.
For me, ritual offers a sense of control through otherwise disorienting life events. They create an opportunity to acknowledge & pay attention to what is arising in a transformational time. It is an opportunity to begin anew.
When I had my miscarriages, creating my own rituals offered a framework for being present with grieving & to discover what else was available to me. It didn’t make the pain go away, but it helped me to give it its own proper space.
Ritual also helped me to discover how sadness, disappointment & anger gave me the capacity to feel peace, hope & gratitude. Sometimes the whole spectrum all at the same time.
Here is a ritual that may help you in your grieving process:
- Write a message to the baby you lost on a piece of paper & then fold it into a paper boat.
- Light the top of the boat aflame & set it adrift on a lake or river.
- As best as you can, bring kind & open awareness to the sensations in your body, thoughts & emotions as you do this. What do you notice? Intentionally turning toward what comes up may allow you to recognize more possibilities in each moment.
For more info on Mindfulness & upcoming Mindfulness for Fertility programs go to www.mindfulnessforfertility.com