October was Pregnancy Loss Awareness Month. Studies show that this kind of reproductive trauma can lead to complex grief.
Miscarriage and stillbirth stigma can contribute to a lack of cultural infrastructure to navigate it. In my own experience of miscarriages, I had to learn a kind of grief literacy.
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 and ritual - a container to express all the feelings: sadness, frustration, anger, love, gratitude, even joy and happiness.
We chanted, ate and burned things. I had the privilege of standing in the doorway of our home with a cage of tiny birds from the market. I released them all into the sky. 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 disorienting life events. They create an opportunity to acknowledge and 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 and discovering 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 and gratitude. Sometimes the whole spectrum 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. 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 and 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 upcoming Mindfulness for Fertility programs go to www.mindfulnessforfertility.com
Guestpost by Dr. Alda Ngo
Inclusion of all gender and sexually diverse people is an important value of Olive Fertility Centre. We are continuously striving to create an environment of compassionate belonging where all of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community are supported, valued and respected.
Olive Fertility Centre resides on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Tsleil-waututh Nations (Vancouver and Surrey clinics), of the Lekwungen people (Victoria clinic), of the syilx/Okanagan people (Kelowna clinic) and of the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation (Blossom Fertility clinic in Prince George).
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