The inspiration for our ceremony is the Mizuko Kuyo ceremonies in Japan. Here are some links about them:
So what will you need to do this?
1) A space for the ceremony. Perhaps ask a local UU or other liberal church. If that’s not available, look into community centers who will either sponsor the event or rent you the space for a low cost.
2) A time for the ceremony. What time of year do you want to host this event? Springtime to encourage new beginnings and growth? Summer? Autumn around All Saints Day/Day of the Dead? Winter Solstice?
3) People to help organize it. We highly recommend to have at least one person who has experienced a pregnancy loss to help plan it and some people who haven’t. It’s great to have both sides present.
4) Brainstorm what you want, as a group, to make this happen. This is your event. (We will be happy to give you the outline for our ceremony, but make it your own.)
We primarily wanted people who have been affected by miscarriage, abortion or stillbirth to have a place to grieve together, in the open, as opposed to by ourselves. We wanted to honor the spirits we lost. We wanted people to emerge from the ceremony with a feeling of support and, using the metaphor of the growing light that starts at the Winter Solstice, we wanted to focus on the light and healing for ourselves.
After we held the ceremony a few times, we began to see how we could make it more inclusive for anyone who has experienced pregnancy loss, or people who can’t have children (for example, transgendered women, or people who have tried fertility treatments that didn’t work.)
5) Talk to your priests, spiritual advisors, women’s health advocates and ask them to take part in the ceremony. Work with them to find appropriate liturgy, songs and ritual elements to include. For the first Spirit Babies ceremony in San Francisco, our organizers were doulas, acupuncturists and priests. Together we were able to find people in our community to help make this a reality.
6) Think about having some people who will be present as ‘bouncers’ at the door. This is important mostly in case any anti-abortion people show up, depending on where you live.
7) Think about having some people who will be present as caretakers – both to prepare the space for the ceremony and also as emotional support for the people who the ceremony is for.
8) Be sure to buy supplies you’ll need for the ceremony. Do you want food and drink after? Do you need candles? Are candles and incense permitted where you’ll be doing your ceremony? Don’t forget tissues! Do you want flowers and statues for the altar?
9) Set up an online presence for your event. As soon as you have the event scheduled, let me know and we’ll put the announcement on our Facebook page and website. We’ll also create an event for it on facebook and make you a host for it.
Spread the word!! Social media, mailing lists, make flyers, tell as many people as you can. Tell us how it went!
10) We also recommend that you decide whether you want to have a role in the ceremony on the day it happens or if you want to be in the audience with the other people who come to the event.
Books and supplies:
Here are some book suggestions for more inspiration:
A Cry from the Womb by Gwendolyn Awen Jones
Spirit Babies by Walter Makichen
Mishkan R’fuah: Where Healing Resides by Rabbi Shira Stern and Rabbi Eric Weiss (also ritualwell.org has some beautiful Jewish prayers)
Tears of Sorrow, Seeds of Hope by Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin (one of our the readings in the attached docs is from that book)
Liquid Life: Abortion and Buddhism in Japan by William R. Lafleur
Jizo Bodhisattva: Guardian of Children, Travelers and other Voyagers by Jan Chozen Bays
All of these books are available on Amazon (some as kindle versions).
In the picture below is the jizo statue we got from Amazon. So many sites try to rip you off for those statues. This is a reasonably priced one!