Rituals can help us to take stock of our experience and to find some 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 cracks that big smile right before he kicks a goal. The cool thing about rituals is that there is scientific evidence that they are extremely effective. You can adopt a ritual from somewhere or make your own.
We may not have a well known miscarriage ritual in New Zealand, but we do have a rich cultural history of do it yourself. To make your own DIY ritual all you need is a pre-planned 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. You can share the ceremony with family and friends or perform it in solitude. However you go about your ritual it could make a real positive difference on how well you cope with the complex feelings associated with pregnancy loss.
Here are some ideas for the building blocks of your DIY 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, at the top of a mountain…
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. Putting aside time for your ritual is an important acknowledgement of the significance of your loss.
A specified action (or multiple actions):
Planting something, singing a song, holding hands, saying something, burying something, scattering something, meditation, making something (for example, a cairn of rocks or a knitted garment), pouring water over something, dancing, reading something aloud, blowing bubbles, lighting a candle...
We have gathered together some real life examples of Kiwi DIY pregnancy loss rituals:
"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
"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
"We collected flower petals from the garden and took them down to the river. We played a song from our wedding as we scattered the petals in the water. My mum took a photo of the petals being scattered. I now have that photo in a locket but it would be nice framed on the wall too." - Anonymous
If you have made your own miscarriage ritual we would love to hear about it xxx
Gino, F. & Norton, M. I. (2013). Why Rituals Work. Scientific American. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-rituals-work/