Grieving the Unspoken Loss
Kate Williams, author of the book “Of Womb and Tomb,” understands the pain and isolation of those who lost a child before birth. She says, “Those who struggle with the inability to conceive, those who know the pain of losing a child before birth, and those who have faced an infant’s death at the time of birth know that this season of mourning is often held inside, hidden and unseen.” Ritual and prayer are an important piece of grieving and finding a healing path forward as a way to acknowledge and share the experience of this type of loss, as well as an opportunity to participate in prayer and ritual around this unique type of grief and loss.
Dr. Alan Wolfelt from the Center for Loss and Transitions offers booklets that help those who grieve a miscarriage or stillbirth. He, too, explains that these losses are invisible to others, and that “grieving parents often suffer in silence, without acknowledgement or support.” The loss of hopes and dreams of having this child, and the love already poured out for this yet to be born baby, can be devastating and life changing.
Offering prayer services and rituals specifically for those who have lost a child before birth helps make the loss visible to others and offers a safe place to acknowledge the child who died before birth. The people who attend these services all experienced this type of loss, and find themselves surrounded by others who share and understand their grief. Often, a ritual can call forth each family, where they can name their child, and maybe light a candle to honor and remember the person who is so important and loved yet taken too soon.
Losing a loved one is difficult and life changing for everyone. However, when the grief is hidden, silent in the hearts of those who have had a miscarriage or stillbirth, the pain can be especially difficult. Having a public, community event with music, prayer, and ritual honoring those loved ones who died before birth can help families have a safe place to grieve, to name their loss, and honor their child.