Ritual for the Unspoken Grief

Lia O'Hara, Liturgy Associate Office of Liturgy

I was away from home and from my husband when my miscarriage happened during my summer pastoral studies in Chicago. I remember answering the door to welcome a colleague during the first few days after the miscarriage. I was not keen for a visit since my pain was still raw, so we both just fell into a long silence after she told me how sorry she was for my loss. When I finally looked up and saw the gleam of tears in her eyes, I broke down and cried with her. Until today I still think of it as the day God wept with me.

When parents experience a pregnancy loss, frequently the grief goes unspoken because secrecy often accompanies the early stages of pregnancy. Support from the community can be rare, as most of the time most friends and family do not know anything about the loss. Even when the grieving parents do share their loss, the many kind comments and sentiments they receive often fail to alleviate the sorrow and guilt parents feel.

Surrounded by ministers who had been shaped by their life experiences and ministries, I was blessed to have been able to confide in those who understood and knew what I had been through. My experience as a liturgical minister did not help in preparing a ritual for my own child. The sorrow was very numbing and I was simply unable to be resourceful.

Looking back, words cannot express my gratitude for my thoughtful colleagues who prepared and organized a Liturgy of the Word to commemorate our loss. It is difficult to put pain adequately into words but rituals speak beyond words alone because they consist of symbolic actions and language. It allowed me to give voice to my pain through prayers and lamentations. It sanctified my experience as I was entrusted to God’s loving care and compassion.

It is truly a humbling experience to be at the receiving end of so much love and support, and to encounter Christ in the face of friends and family. As God’s people, we are not meant to grieve alone. God weeps with us. In the embrace of the community, grieving parents allow themselves to be sustained and cared for as they put the pieces of their lives back together. Our grieving should naturally unite us with the community, a place where both have something to give and receive.

The Diocese of Calgary invites parents, their families and friends to join us in a prayer gathering by attending the Memorial Liturgy for Miscarried and Stillborn Infants on Friday, March 24, at 7:00 p.m. at Sacred Heart Church, 1307 - 14th Street SW. For more information or to RSVP, please visit our website at www.miscarriageliturgy.ca.

Related Offices Carillon Office of Liturgy
Related Themes Liturgy

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