"Self pity is our worst enemy, and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in the world."
- Helen Keller1880-1968, Blind and Deaf Educator

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Healing Ritual

I went to a memorial service today. It was for two beautiful twins, Matthew and Ashley, who died too soon, at 5 months in utero. I met the mother and father soon after Sally Ann died, at a baby loss group. Even then, though obviously distraught, the dead baby mama had a composure about her that I envied. I never did learn that composure and, even today, when I talk about Sally Ann, it is with tear-filled eyes and a bit of stuttering.

It has been a year since the twins died and, in a grand cathedral mass, we joined together to honor lives cut short- lives that had little living, but had no shortage of love during their lifetimes. We were there for a formal memorial to validate that yes- these children lived and breathed just like as you and I do, even if it were for only a moment.

I watched in awe at the rituals that the priest performed. This is alien territory for me, being somewhat of a heathen myself. But it made my think about how this ritual, this rite of passage, this formal ceremony was creating healing. I looked at this dead baby mama and, for the first time, saw tears streaming down her face. She let go and publicly grieved the loss of her hopes and dreams. She was vulnerable. There was healing that was occurring right in front of my eyes.

I wondered as I cried- because I always cry- if there is something equally as special and fitting of the anniversary of my Sally Ann's birth/death. Although I am extremely outgoing and social by nature, I am also surprisingly a private person- so my ritual would be something different. What would help me to heal? It won't be about closure, because that will never happen. I can never feel complete about what happened. Don't tell me it was God's will. Don't tell me that things happen for a reason.

I'd like to put it out there to other dead baby mamas and friends of ours- what kind of rituals did you do or would you suggest for me to honor the legacy of love that Sally Ann gave to me? How might I memorialize and give back to the universe the lifetime of love that she and I shared for all too short a time.

I miss you Sally Ann.


mrsmuelly said...

We have a birthday party for each of the boys on their actual birth date. We celebrate the fact that they were born - no matter the outcome. We've released balloons and written messages...and cried. I also attend loss memorials when they happen and I even have spoken at some - it's healing for me to talk to other moms that are dealing with all this too.

Mrs. Spit said...

We had a funeral for Gabriel, at our church. I had expected maybe 20people. There was over 100 people.

We have a cake for Gabe on his birthday, and since it's right before Christmas, Mr. Spit and I go and buy gifts for a child and donate them.

Kim said...

I am sorry you are hurting. I have no suggestions to offer but I like Mrs. Spit's idea of buying a gift for a child and donating it.

Not on Fire said...

Someone told me that writing letters and burning them could be healing. I never tried it.

I love the idea of gifts to other children or donations to charity. I give bicycles at Christmas for that reason.

Kami said...

We went geochaching on the ocean to mourn after we lost our son. The next year we did the same thing and this time left a msg about him and a pair of baby socks. Before setting out to geocache we went through his box and relived his birth with each other. It was horrible sad, but it was honoring in a way too.

We never really shared the grieving process with anyone else in that manner. We never made it a big deal to anyone else. I guess I didn't think they would be supportive or understand.

The next two years went geocaching around our home. The first time it went well - it felt good to remember and acknowledge our loss. The second time (4 years since his birth) I was pregnant and tired and we never found a geocache in a nice place to sit and remember so it was frustrating.

I suspect we will try again this year. It is small compared to most people, but it seems to be about right for us.

May you find something that works for you.

noswimmers said...

We just marked a year since losing our twin girls. It was an emotional day, but we did little things to remember them: we sat under "their" tree, thought about them, etc. As mursmuelly said, you might consider releasing balloons...it's hard, but healing at the same time.

Many ((HUGS)) to you.

Michele said...

from LFCA

We had memorial Masses for our children. They were so special and meaningful. Way more people that I thought would come came. It was a nice way to remember them and to share them with others. On their birthdays, we have their special dinners (the ones I craved with them) and a little party. Even though they only lived a few minutes, they were here... With us... Alive... I cant imagine not having something special. I make a special birthday cake and we make dinner together. We invite the grandparents and godparents. And we remember their pregnancy and those few, precious moments.

Sending warm thoughts.