Mourning a Miscarriage

We covered Pelekini with the soft Earth, we smoothly and naturally transitioned into Kaddish, then the Spanish version of ‘Our Father,’ and finally a Quechua verse taught to me by an adopted grandmother I had while living in my native Peru as a young adult: Kanwan kasaq, aman sakerpariwankichu. Yuyaymanaykim. I will be with you, you will not leave me. I am always thinking of you.

No one ever prepares you for pregnancy loss; however, it is important that we normalize the experience and recognize how common it is. About 10 to 15 out of every 100 pregnancies end in miscarriage, and an early miscarriage is often a sign that our bodies recognize that something isn’t right in the pregnancy. Despite our bodies working to care for us, there is no denying that the experience of miscarriage can still leave many of us feeling alone, ashamed and in the dark—especially given how seldomly the experience is discussed, and how women have historically been blamed for the loss.

One thing I can say about this experience is that it truly transformed me. I’ve grown in my faith, deepened my connection to my body, and shifted my outlook on life and parenthood. At the same time, it has also been difficult to balance between honoring the magnitude of my loss and mourning the systemic attack on reproductive rights with the passing of Texas’s six-week ban on abortion. Like many people who have complex feelings about their own pregnancy loss while remaining pro-choice, I share my experience while also holding an unequivocal belief in everyone’s right to autonomy over their body—and to define their own experience.

On Friday nights, as we sing Shalom Aleichem, we welcome our “baby angel” to the Shabbat table. Saying Kaddish also gives us an opportunity to remember the life that was to be, and this coming Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) we look forward to starting an annual tradition of co-creating an altar with other parents who have experienced loss. Knowing that our cultures are rooted in rituals that allow us to honor life in all its phases brings us joy, comfort and appreciation for being alive to experience love in all its presentations.