A Mother’s Day Ritual After Stillbirth or Miscarriage

Mother’s Day is hard for many after stillbirth or miscarriage. You may question if you are still a mother if your baby is not physically with you. Let me set you straight on that one—you definitely are still a mother after a stillbirth or miscarriage. Others may not understand but you and I do.

It can be helpful to develop rituals to remember and honor your baby on Mother’s Day and every day. Some people plant perennial gardens. Others wear symbolic jewelry to remind themselves and other people about how much their child is loved. This is often a time when people make donations in a child’s name to organizations that have special meaning.

One of my favorite rituals is a variation on the tashlich ritual that happens on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Tashlich comes from the Hebrew word meaning “to cast,” referring to the intent to cast something away. My variation of the ritual suggests that you bring small pieces of bread to a body of water (a river, a stream, a lake, or a pond). With each casting of the bread into the water, send away resentments, the hurtful or clueless thing that someone has said to you, your negative thoughts or feelings about yourself, or anything that might give you a little bit of space or grace inside.

There was a day where I did this ritual on the first day of Rosh Hashanah. I brought bread to one of the lakes near my house and began to cast them into the lake. It was quiet and serene. I had some time to meditate on the year that had passed and the year to come. After a few minutes, a gull landed on the water, took the bread and flew away. In a mysterious way, more and more gulls appeared, gently flying to the surface of the water and taking away more of the bread. It was one of the most moving days of my life. I felt lighter and freed up in some way. It’s something that I look forward to every year now.

Try out this ritual on Mother’s Day or on any day that you feel you need to let go of something. You might find just a little more space inside that can help you as you grieve.

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