There is value in finding ways to remember and acknowledge your baby, your pregnancy and your parenthood. You may be interested in holding some kind of ceremony (a ritual), you may also like the idea of having a keepsake to symbolise your baby. Sometimes you may not be interested in acknowledging your loss at all and that is ok too. We hope that the ideas that we have collected here will be helpful. 

The Value of Rituals

DIY Ritual

Ideas

Japanese Jizo Statues

Keepsake Ideas

The Value of Rituals

Rituals can help us to take stock of our experience and to find a little order amongst chaos. Some rituals in our culture are thousands of years old, weddings for example, while others are unique to a particular event or person; like the way Damien Mackenzie always cracks a big smile right before he kicks a conversion. The cool thing about rituals is that there is scientific evidence that they are extremely effective (1). You can adopt a ritual from somewhere or make your own. You can share the ceremony with family and friends or perform it in solitude. However you go about your ritual it could make a positive difference to how well you cope with the complex feelings associated with miscarriage.

 

DIY Rituals

We may not have a well known miscarriage ritual in New Zealand, but we do have a rich cultural history of D.I.Y. To make your own D.I.Y ritual all you need is a pre-assigned place, time and action. Take your time. This ritual may be over in 10 minutes, be a work in progress, or be something that you do every year. It is up to you. Here are some ideas for building blocks of your D.I.Y ritual:

 

  • A special place: 

    • The beach, next to a river, a church, your bedroom, your living room, your garden, your parents garden, under a tree…

 

  • A specified time: 

    • Pick a time; it could be a date that has particular significance to you, or just be a time that you can make free to focus on your ritual.

 

  • A specified action (or multiple actions): 

    • Planting something, singing a song, holding hands, saying something, burying something, scattering something, meditation, making something (a cairn of rocks, knitted garment etc), pouring water over something, dancing, reading something aloud, blowing bubbles, lighting a candle... 

Examples of DIY rituals:

 

Scattered Flowers: 

Collect petals or flowers and take them to a special place to scatter them. You could do this at a river or lake or maybe at the top of a mountain. Play a special song as you scatter the petals. You could take a photo of the petals being scattered and have it framed or put into a locket. 

"We placed our baby in a muslin cloth in a carved wooden case. We buried the wooden case under a tree planted for our baby on my parent's farm. We had our close family there for the planting of the tree. I wanted to say something but I couldn’t. My Dad said, 'lost but not forgotten' and I thought that was perfect. On my due date we picked some flowers from the garden and placed them next to the tree" - Corrine, 2018 (c)

"I printed a picture of our first scan and put it in the family album. That little baby was part of our lives and it’s nice to recognise them as part of the family." - Shea, 2019 (b)

 
 

A Guide to Jizo

In Japan, Jizo statues can be found in many places; along rural roadsides, outside ancient buddist temples, lining cemeteries, even on busy street corners. Jizo Bosatsu is a Buddist deity loved by the Japanese people. He takes care of the souls of unborn children, he is a protector of children and travellers. Sometimes people who have lost a baby dress little Jizo statues in bibs, hats, or robes to give warmth to Jizo in the hope that he will do the same for the babies he is protecting. The garments are often red, a colour that represents safety and protection, and are hand knitted or sewn, but not always.

(2)(3)

New York Times writer, Angela Elson, first came across Jizo when she and her husband, Brady,  were living in Japan. Years later when the couple experienced a miscarriage they remembered Jizo and got a statue of their own. (4)

Brady and I grieved the baby in ways that were different but equally sad. One thing we both understood perfectly, though, was Jizo — why we had to search for the right kind of red yarn, how I had to crochet the smallest hat and coat three times to get it right. It was nice for us to have something to do, a project to finish in lieu of the baby I failed to complete. When Jizo was dressed, Brady complimented my handiwork. “Where should we put him? In the yard?” “Maybe in a few days,” I balked, stationing the statue on our dining room table where I could pat him on the head on my way to the kitchen. I talked to him. Sometimes I kissed him when no one was looking, or I took him with me to the living room to watch TV 

...

I’m not sure if this is the correct way to weather a miscarriage, or even the right way to Jizo. I don’t know how long I’m supposed to crochet new outfits: maybe until I don’t feel the need to, or maybe forever.

I do know that like those [Japanese] parents haunting Mount Koya, Brady and I will always think of that baby who never was. We’ll leave pieces of our love for him wherever we go, hoping Jizo will deliver them to wherever he is.”

You can read Angela's full article here

Keepsakes

After a miscarriage families may be looking for ways to remember their pregnancy or to honour their lost babies. We have gathered together some ideas below...

 

  • Plant a tree or rose 

    • If you are moving around a lot or renting talk to your plant centre about what is good to plant in a pot. You could invite your close family to attend the planting. Someone may feel up to saying a few words e.g. “lost but never forgotten."

  • Frame the constellations in the night sky the night that you lost your baby​.​​

  • Buy a Christmas ornament to represent your baby so that they can always be a part of your Christmas day. e.g a star

  • Frame a quote

    • For example, “I may have only held you in my womb for a moment but I will hold you in my heart forever”

  • Find a piece of jewellery to remember your baby by

    • For example, in the shape of a heart or star, or with your baby’s birthstone. 

  • Get a tattoo representing your baby

  • Have a bead added to your pandora or charm bracelet to represent your baby

  • Contact flax farewells to order a handmade flax basket to use as a precious vessel/ipu taonga to bury your baby in. Or learn how to make your own flax ipu taonga here.

  • Naming your baby can sometimes make it easier to talk about your loss regardless of whether you knew if your baby was a boy or a girl. You could then have the name framed or frame the nickname of your baby along with baby’s due date. 

  • Have a plaque made for your baby. The wonderful Glover Memorials provide plaques to New Zealand families who have lost babies for no charge. Email info@glovermemorials.co.nz with the name you have given your baby and the date that you lost your baby, also include your name and address so that the plaque can be posted to you. 

  • Andrea from Huggable Hearts donates handmade fabric hearts that are made to the weight of your baby (if you don't know the weight of your baby she will base the weight on the gestation that the baby reached).

  • If you have had a later term miscarriage or stillbirth you may qualify to receive a free HeartFelt photography session.

(5)

"I wear a silver heart ring everyday that represents my baby. I was going to get a ring with what would have been my baby's birthstone - but the birthstone was diamond (April 13th)…. I might still get a small diamond one day but I like the heart." - Corrine, 2018 (c)

"The hardest thing about miscarriage for me is the disconnect I have with the baby - it's hard to empathise with the emotional pain. As time passes I understand more the significant affect miscarriage has on the mum - not a short term loss but a lifelong one and possibly a wound that never truly heals. I personally don't have a keepsake but I'm so glad we planted a tree - a lifelong memory" - Stephen, 2018 (b)

 
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