honoring those who have experienced pregnancy loss Sat, 19 Dec 2015 14:28:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Spirit babies altar at Sun Gallery 10/5-11/7 Mon, 16 Nov 2015 04:32:25 +0000 We were honored again this year to be accepted into the Sun Gallery’s Day of the Dead Exhibition and Celebration in Hayward, California. I walked in to set up our altar to find that I was the first person there! Executive Director/Curator Dorsi Diaz helped me with the placement of it, suggesting an area in the back of the gallery this year, so that people had a bit more privacy. Unfortunately I was unable to attend the gallery opening due to an emergency, but Dorsi told me later that “the event was well attended and people were very moved by your beautiful altar.”

Here are some pictures from this year’s altar: 



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How does the garden grow? Sun, 21 Jun 2015 19:32:56 +0000 IMG_8901

Spirit babies garden progress

 It’s been about 41 days since I planted the Spirit Babies garden. Look how it blooms and grows! 

I am particularly excited about how well the cala lilies have come back. The pot had been ‘invaded’ by a mint plant which I repotted and moved out of my cat’s reach. (I caught him on the windowsill trying to eat it.) I need to get another jizo for the garden, since the one in the picture is not made for outdoors. He usually sits on my altar inside the house and I let him into the garden on special days like today.

It is Summer Solstice. On this, the longest day of the year, we celebrate fertility and growth. That may also be hard for some of us who have experienced pregnancy loss. But fertility is not just about pregnancy. It’s also about creativity and the inspiration and thoughts that spark it. 

Since I started the garden on Mother’s Day, I thought it was appropriate to post an update on Father’s Day. I am holding space for anyone having a difficult day today. Every day I tend to the plants, as do the notes planted in the soil, which were written by some of you at the Spirit Babies ceremonies. Know that your love is part of this garden.


Cala lilies, jizo, marigold, and forget-me-nots


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On Mother’s Day: A Spirit Babies devotional garden Sun, 10 May 2015 17:54:31 +0000 jizo center windowboxYesterday I decided that it might be a good idea to plant notes from the last Spirit Babies ceremonies on Mother’s Day. There were so many cute little flowers on sale at Trader Joe’s just in time for the holiday. The flowers I chose included low-water plants (the red and yellow flowers that aren’t roses), miniature red roses, and forget-me-nots. I already had seeds for marigolds, and I had saved the black cala lilies from the October 2014 Spirit Babies altar at Sun Gallery. I bought more potting soil, since I planned to transfer the flowers to larger pots and include the notes in them.

I intentionally did my shopping yesterday. As many of you know, if you have experienced pregnancy loss, going out into the world on Mother’s Day can sting. It can feel like a slap in the face or a punch in the gut. Everyone says “Happy Mother’s Day” and what do you say in return?jizo in the windowbox

This morning, I gathered the notes, lit a candle from the Spirit Babies ceremonies, set the mizuko jizo statue next to it and cast a circle. I put some notes into one of the pots, layered some soil, more notes, more soil and then plants or seeds. I read some of the notes as I did this, holding space for all your love and tears that went into them. And then I cleaned everything up, opened the circle, using the garden trowel as my magic wand. I put the containers in my window box. 

I am not a gardener but I will tend to this garden with love and respect. This is for those of you who have been to a Spirit Babies ceremony or installation. This is for those of you who sent us notes if you couldn’t make the ceremony in person. This is for us. I will post photos throughout the year as the flowers bloom.

angled left windowbox angled view windowbox

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Remembering; Forgiving Fri, 26 Sep 2014 04:11:01 +0000 by Gwendolyn Roberts

All of the attendees at our first Charlottesville Spirit Babies Ceremony concurred that there is a need for this sort of gathering in our community. Too often pregnancy loss feels isolating. There are amazing resources available through institutions and online, but there is a magic possible when we share space and time with one another.

On the autumnal equinox, when light and dark share the day equally, we gathered at Belmont Park in the twilight. It was a beautiful night: fire started by bow-drill, sage and candles burning. We sat and shared tears and laughter, silence and words. We acknowledged, honored and held each loss; naming grief and stepping forward into the next season.

Reposted with permission from:

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Altar for Spirit Babies at Sun Gallery 10/9-11/9/14 Fri, 26 Sep 2014 03:53:48 +0000  


Sun gallery altar for Dia de los Muertos exhibit in October 2014

Sun gallery altar for Dia de los Muertos exhibit in October 2014

I am pleased to announce that there will be an Altar for Spirit Babies at Sun Gallery in Hayward, CA as part of the “Sunsets: Community Altars at the Sun Gallery for Dia De Los Meurtes”
October 9 – November 9 More details to follow but this is the general description:
“As this is an unconventional exhibition we will be documenting the growth of these altars over the course of the exhibition dates. This means that none of the altars will be complete at the beginning of the exhibition but will be added to, and evolve, as the show progresses. This will culminate in two events. Firstly, we will have an evening of quiet meditation with candle lighting and silent offerings. The second event will be our family friendly community afternoon with traditional folklorico dancing, Aztec dancers, fantastic food and face painting.(Dates to be announced).”

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At-home Spirit Babies ceremonies in the SF Bay Area Thu, 11 Sep 2014 20:41:07 +0000 We are looking to reach out to more people in need of Spirit Babies ceremonies. If you or someone you know would be interested in having a small ceremony at your home, please get in touch with us at

Altar detail 2 from 2011

Altar detail 2 from 2011

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In honor of Blue Tue, 09 Sep 2014 21:55:10 +0000 This poem was read at the Spirit Babies ceremony on February 14th, 2014.

In honor of Blue

by Marna Cathleen


We touch each other between the worlds

Through the trees

In my dreams

Between the worlds

She flows from my heart and her home,

We dance Between the worlds

Where it’s quiet, where only love exist

Where death is an epic experience and life is but moment

We touch in the silence and our hearts sing

Where eternity is an idea of forever and forever never comes

Where bodies are no longer needed

Where souls touch in the infinite space of invisibility

where boundaries between her body and my body no longer exist

Always Mother and daughter

One leading the other

Teaching each other the ways of life and death

From between the worlds

Blue, I love you forever and forever is right here!


Candles from 2012 ceremony

Candles from 2012 ceremony



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Tips on organizing your own Spirit Babies Ceremony Fri, 04 Jul 2014 20:00:16 +0000 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 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!  

The statue on the right is the mizuko jizo statue we got on amazon.

The statue on the right is the mizuko jizo statue we got on amazon.

]]> 1 Our First Spirit Babies gathering Wed, 02 Jul 2014 22:03:53 +0000

Altar detail from 2011 ceremony at UU Church in SF

Altar detail from 2011 ceremony at UU Church in SF

Our First Spirit Babies Solstice

By Silverwing

This article first appeared on 

ON THE NIGHT of the Winter Solstice this year, between fifty and sixty people gathered in the chapel at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in San Francisco.  Women and their loved ones came to honor their ‘spirit babies’ – those who had been lost due to a miscarriage, abortion and stillbirth.  It was standing room only.

As people entered the chapel, we invited them to write out thoughts and prayers and place them on the altar.  For those who couldn’t make it to the ceremony, we transcribed their emails and added them to the altar so they could be there with us in spirit.  The altar had a statue of the Goddess Tara in the middle of it, surrounded by flowers and candles.  We were greeted at the beginning of the ceremony with a beautiful voice singing “Amazing Grace”.

Isa Gucciardi from the Foundation of the Sacred Stream officiated the ceremony.   She talked about loss and the Winter solstice, including a Buddhist story of woman grieving the loss of a baby (the transcript of her speech can be found here). Chandra Alexandre, the founder of Sharanya andJeremiah Kalendae, Beyond Sunday Minister from the First Unitarian Universalist Church, contributed stories from their spiritual work and readings from different traditions around the world.  Several women whose lives have been affected by miscarriage, abortion and stillbirth were brave enough to share their stories in front of everyone and lift their voices in song.  One woman invited us to speak the name of the child we had lost.

Perhaps for the first time, we were not alone facing our grief.   Isa said to us “You are all mothers” and let us sit with that thought for a while.  She led us through a guided meditation to connect with the power and spirit of the Earth – because, as she says, “it is the Earth that teaches all mothers how to mother through her example”.  After the meditation, we lit candles, brought them to the center of the room and placed them into a large cauldron of water as we sang about light returning both to the earth and to our lives.

After the ceremony, we gathered for food and drink in a room across from the chapel.   We wanted to give people time for silent prayer, reflection or to talk to someone if they needed support.  We collected all of the papers from the altar and will plant them in the springtime with daffodils.

Pregnancy loss can be so isolating.  Not a lot of people know what to say to women who have had a miscarriage, abortion or stillbirth.  One goal for this ceremony was to honor our spirit babies and ourselves.  Another goal was to have people leave the ceremony with a feeling of peace.  I can’t speak for everyone but I certainly left feeling more at peace and with a sense of community.

It was community after all that made this ceremony possible. Amber Dawn Hallet asked the church about sponsoring the ceremony, organized most of the people who contributed to it and led the campaign to get the word out all in a span of three months.  People who had never even met each other in person before the night of the winter solstice gathered in the chapel of the UU Church to make this sacred space together.

I have to admit, I was concerned about anti-abortion people showing up to protest the ceremony.  Put the word ‘abortion’ on anything and protest is a possibility.  I even asked my husband to act as a bouncer at the door if need be.  Seminary student Gina Pond and a friend of hers did some protective spiritual workings and maintained a physical presence at the doors to the ritual space before and during the ceremony.  I’m sure that did a lot to help and luckily we were left undisturbed.

As I escorted a woman out after the ceremony, she asked me “Do you do this every year?”  I responded, “We will. This is the first time we’ve done this.”  A woman who had just recently had an abortion was there that night.  Another told us she had been waiting over 40 years for something like this.  If anything convinced me that we had done the right thing by holding this ceremony, it was hearing from those women.

My hope is that we can continue to hold this ceremony once a year and inspire people from around the country to hold similar ones where they live.  To that end, there will be more information about our ceremony and resources listed at the Spirit Babies website.  No one should have to go through the grief of a miscarriage, abortion or stillbirth alone.   The Spirit Babies ceremony is one way to make it so fewer of us will have to.

Silverwing is a health care provider working in the Bay Area. She specializes in women’s health and has been an activist and advocate for women’s reproductive rights for 20 years. She hopes someday to live in a world where women’s bodies are not politicized and it is no longer necessary to hide behind a pseudonym when talking about her abortion.

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