Ritual and Remembrance

Today marks the first day of the 2014-2015 school year for the elementary school children of Santa Rosa, California! Woo hoo! Many parents will breathe a sigh of relief that they can now (hopefully) find a little more sanity in their daily routines, especially those who are working, while the kids get back to the job of expanding their brains. This shift in energy in my city will be palpable, as it always is, but it didn’t happen without some preparation.

Many families have a ritual of doing back-to-school shopping before school starts. A typical shopping spree will likely include new shoes, new jeans, a few shirts, notebooks and pencils, maybe a new lunchbox or backpack. This ritual helps to prepare our children for that first day with more readiness and sparkle. It also helps to ground our kids and ourselves in the experience that is to come. 

The day before school starts, my youngest son’s school posts the classroom listing, the big reveal telling the kids who their teacher will be and who will be in their class, at 4:00 pm on the outside of the main office. It is mayhem, in an exciting way, this congregation of children and parents itching to see where our kids have been placed for the year. It is another step in this ritual of going back to school that moves the experience even closer into reality. Being back on campus, seeing friends again, imagining this new classroom of students brings everyone another step closer to the next day, the first day, of school. 

Rituals have the power to assist us in so many ways when we are in transition. I have discovered it is one of the biggest ways we boost our healing after a pregnancy loss.

I remember thinking it seemed unnecessary to memorialize my unborn children. I did not want to be reminded of their existence. This was true for both of my unborn – the baby I aborted and the one I miscarried. I just wanted to snap my eyes shut and have any thoughts of either of them be gone and buried… without any heavy lifting on my part. 

Our western culture makes non-recognition rather easy, doesn’t it? How often have you heard of an unborn child being remembered in a ceremony? I can only recall hearing about it one other time in my life. 

As part of my Project Rachel retreat, remembering them in a ceremony with several other mothers many years ago was a part of the process that I did because I had to. I did not want to do this as I knew it would hurt. I won’t lie to you. It hurt like nothing I had ever experienced before. But it created one of the biggest shifts for me, bringing me out of the hell I was living in and into a place of peace. It was hands down the hardest thing I have ever done, because I needed to not only acknowledge their existence, but in the case of my aborted daughter, my role in terminating the pregnancy. It was also the most powerful transformational experience I have ever had.

There are many different ways to memorialize our children. An anonymous guest blogger earlier this spring wrote about her ritual at the top of a mountain. I have known several women to find their rituals in nature, in the woods or at the ocean. My guest blogger from last week, Garet Bedrosian, wrote about helping one of her clients to ritualize her baby’s life. The key is to find time and space to do this. Whether we realize it or not, our unborn children are part of our lessons here on earth and their presence in our lives has not been by accident. I believe they want us to acknowledge their existence in our lives. The gift we get in return for that acknowledgement is a peace that is pure, sweet and lasting.

Today, I remember my unborn when their birthdays approach. My neighbors’ birthdays remind me of my daughter and my sons October birthdays remind me of my unborn son’s life. My daughter remembers and acknowledges her siblings during the Day of the Dead celebrations at school now. Like a soldier in a war does not want to be forgotten by his or her family, neither do our unborn. For you and for them, please acknowledge and remember. It can be a beautiful way to heal and to transition into a new place of peace in your life.




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