In memory of... no one.
September 18, 2019 3:01 PM   Subscribe

In the past six years, I've terminated three pregnancies, each within six weeks of gestation. My boyfriend has been supportive of these decisions, and I've had no regrets. By his own admission, neither does he in any impactful way (he may have passing 'what if' thoughts.) I want to ...memorialize these, uh, zygotes.

A huge part of me feels weird about it wanting to do that. We have a toddler, and wish we could have another, but for logistical/practical Reasons (none of which include infertility) are not able to do so. I'm looking for a physical practice or activity with tangible, visible results, but also quiet and private. It would be an annual remembrance.

Has anyone here chosen a way of memorializing a failed or terminated pregnancy? I realize that the two scenarios are very different, but perhaps I could find some element that appeals to me, regardless. Thank you in advance!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I donate annually to Planned Parenthood in absolute gratitude.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:06 PM on September 18, 2019 [51 favorites]

I haven't terminated a pregnancy. That said, I think a memorial would be lovely if you feel it would help you. Some ideas - planting trees every year? Volunteering at a shelter or other facility in their memory (what about as an escort at your local clinic)? Sponsoring animals or providing micro loans to less developed countries? Or maybe just writing our your feelings, "what might have beens" and setting them afloat in the ocean / afire in a bonfire?
posted by some chick at 3:10 PM on September 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

Ah I just finished reading an otherwise terrible novel about monarch butterflies, which states that some cultures believe the butterflies carry the souls of lost children (not that I consider your pregnancies "lost" — I 100% respect your choice to control your own reproductive health). I'm not sure if you live in a migratory area, but perhaps you could plant some milkweed to help support their fragile ecosystem?
posted by Brittanie at 3:24 PM on September 18, 2019 [12 favorites]

Pick a scenic, quiet location near you and get there in time to watch the full sunrise. It’s a very soothing experience. You could even bring a thermos of coffee or tea to sip on as you sit and reflect.
posted by sallybrown at 3:26 PM on September 18, 2019 [3 favorites]

A lot of cemetaries have graves for Unknown Baby, check and see if there's one near you.
posted by rhizome at 3:32 PM on September 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

I visited Hase-dera in Kamakura. It's a place where people can pray after a miscarriage, stillbirth or abortion; they are treated as the same thing. Visitors knit little hats and scarves for the thousands of Jizō as a way of asking protection for the embryo or fetus who passed. It really seemed like a healing practice and a way of acknowledging a difficult event without blame or recrimination.

You could replicate this with a small garden statue or three, and add little hats. No one needs to know why they are there.
posted by Alison at 3:37 PM on September 18, 2019 [15 favorites]

You could do a little private memorial as part of Thanksgiving like lighting a special candle and saying a little (secular) prayer. Your kid doesn't have to know what you're thinking about and it'd be a nice tradition for them too.
posted by bleep at 3:44 PM on September 18, 2019 [3 favorites]

I lit a candle at church and said a little prayer for the unborn soul when my daughter terminated her pregnancy. I don't plan to do it annually, but it gave me peace at the time. (FYI I supported her decision but I was wistful for what might have been.)
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 3:47 PM on September 18, 2019 [5 favorites]

Not from my personal experience (I didn't even get as far as termination...), but you might want to look up mizuko kuyo, the Japanese memorials of this kind; there are various English-language articles online about experiences with this, and some of them might offer ideas which would chime with your feelings.
posted by huimangm at 4:42 PM on September 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

For many years on either my "due date" or termination date, I showed up at whatever hospital was local to me with a big box of newborn diapers, a swaddle, some pacis/binkys and some care items for a new mom (lanolin, eye mask, etc.) and asked the postpartum nurses if they would give the package to any new mom who seemed in need. Everything was in original packaging and unwrapped, and most nurses said it would definitely be used. There is also an annual Japanese paper lantern festival near me, so some years I send up a lantern.

And yes, donating to Planned Parenthood.
posted by cocoagirl at 5:45 PM on September 18, 2019 [33 favorites]

This sounds like a fundamentally liturgical question and knowing your religious tradition, or type of lack thereof, might help us direct you to good resources. Liturgy across religious traditions and the various flavors of lacks thereof have generally been almost always male-dominated and remarkably unresponsive to the needs of women, but things have been slowly changing over the last 20 years. There might be more culturally/religiously/irreligiously tailored things we could direct you towards in addition to the excellent more general advice you are getting already.
posted by Blasdelb at 3:18 AM on September 19, 2019

Can you go for a walk somewhere scenic and secluded and scatter some seeds or hang some seed bird feeders up in the trees? Birds are seen as messengers between the physical and spirit worlds in a lot of cultures and feeding them is good luck.

I have found gardening in general to be very healing (I took it up after my father passed and the digging and lifting and touching the dirt and flowers all helped from a physical sense, seeing what I'd accomplished made me feel good too), you could go to a nursery and pick some plants out to gift to others or to keep, or plant some seedlings depending on the time of year.
posted by lafemma at 7:24 AM on September 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

I got my nose pierced on what would have been the due date for my miscarried baby. I tried to let the healing process inside me follow the healing process on my face - raw and bleeding for a few months and gradually healing into something that's just an everyday part of me. I'll always have a little hole there (or maybe eventually a little scar if I remove the piercing) but it doesn't hurt anymore unless it gets snagged on something. And there's a little shiny stone there now and it's weird but it's kind of part of me and I love it even though it hurt so much at first.
posted by beandip at 8:12 AM on September 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

The first termination I ever had, I made a big angry painting with broken glass all over it. The last one, I made a quiet cement mosaic garden stepping stone in a spiral pattern, also using broken glass, which I hadn't connected until right now, huh. But both of them helped me process the experience and turn it into art. I still have the painting. The garden stone? I left it behind when I moved away because I didn't need it anymore and it belonged in that garden.

Obviously, I am a big fan of using art to channel your feelings so I would say, make some art. It could be an annual thing, it could be just one time, whatever. Or you could make it and then burn it, which is also a powerful release. The other thing that springs to mind is a tattoo. It sounds like you've had a heavy few years - a tattoo could encapsulate and commemorate all of it for you and only you would know what it was.
posted by mygothlaundry at 1:09 PM on September 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

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