Lessons for grieving the unborn from Japanese Buddhism.
Thank you for this sublime article. I am not a Japanese Buddhist but when I was mourning the loss of my 16-year-old daughter who had died as a result of her disabilities from a birth injury, I came upon the website of the Green Gulch Zen center in Northern California and participated in the Jizo Ceremony .
It is a ceremony for children that have died.
Your description of what you experienced sounds very familiar to me.
The deep beauty of mourning the loss and the imagery of the soul going to a heaven.
This was what I needed back in 2012 and it is so moving to read your story.
This is one of the most valuable articles Persuasion has ever published.
The Catholic Church absolutely does offer a ritual to grieve an abortion and honor this loss. I went to one at my parish for myself. The service was for all of us who had lost a child before birth, for any reason.
We gathered in the sanctuary. The ceremony was led by a sister and a number of spiritual directors who were available to listen, pray or just be silent with each of us. We began with a guided meditation during which we were asked to imagine ourselves walking in a place of beauty. During our walk, we were accompanied by Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary. At the end of the meditation, we handed our child to Mary to be placed in her loving care for eternity.
At the end, we were asked to name our child and to write the name on a piece of paper. The pieces of paper were gathered and taken to the altar where they were burned. The rising smoke symbolized the child’s spirit ascending to heaven. It was absolutely life changing for me.
Never underestimate the Catholic Church’s embrace of ritual; the religion is steeped in it. In my mind, no other religion does it better. You simply have to ask.
This is just absolutely, perfectly beautiful.
This is incredibly beautiful and moving. Thank you for writing it.
Leave aside Japanese Buddhism. The 'middle way' for abortion, which most Americans endorse even if they wouldn't put it this way, is to recognize it as an animal rights issue. There's nothing special about being human understood as species membership. Fertilized human ova have no more right to life than any other single-celled organisms. Human fetuses at later stages of development are comparable to snails, fish, frogs, or whatever.
Animal rights is a vexed issue and there are no bright lines between species even if there are some clear cases on which most of us agree. We shouldn't have healthy dogs or cats put down because we're going on vacation or raise chimpanzees for food.
This is the rationale for the trimester schedule the Supreme Court adopted in Roe v. Wade and most Americans view it as intuitively correct.