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Reclaiming Silenced Grief at the PoWR

Altar for perinatal grief and loss ritual

Rev. Margaret Northall, RN, and I were workshop presenters at the 2023 Parliament of the World's Religions in Chicago, Illinois #2023PoWR. This image above highlights the altar we created for our workshop: Reclaiming Dignity in Silenced Perinatal Grief: An Interfaith Approach. On the altar, there are various images of the goddess, tea lights, pictures from Crete (where so much of the inspiration for this project comes from), a collage created by Margaret dedicated to this sacred work, holy water, a macaw feather, a few sticks of Palo Santo, and many tiny pink crystal hearts. Our ritual was crafted to include an exchange of a feather, given to participants at the beginning of the ritual, for a tiny pink crystal heart at the end, symbolizing the tangible connection we hold to the spirit beings that once pierced the veil. What I liked about this altar, in particular, was the choice of cloth that Margaret provided - a deep blue and milky white was reminiscent of Mother Mary - Margaret remarked that the placement of the cloths appeared to emulate the placenta. The altar also invoked a vision of the Milky Way galaxy, which seemed apropos to our work of reclaiming our spiritual connection between the cosmic and the mundane world.

Lily & Margaret at our 8am (!) workshop, preparing to meet with attendees...

Due to unforeseen circumstances, Margaret and I did not have enough time alloted to offer this ritual, which would have also included me offering native flute music for spiritual healing. Needless to say, we were disappointed that we could not offer the ritual at this time. I wonder if this was Spirit's way of putting us more deeply in touch with the disappointment and anguish associated with perinatal loss...we had expectations to "birth" something new that day, through the creation of the altar and offering of the ritual, yet our plans were thwarted. This altar is still speaking to us and revealing deeper truths about the nature of this work.

We did ultimately have the opportunity to speak with a handful of attendees about our project, share our personal and professional experiences with perinatal loss, and explore the nature of disenfranchised grief. It warmed my heart to hear a participant say they gleaned valuable information from our workshop they hadn't encountered before. This is primarily due to Margaret's unique spiritual insights into this work. I hope this workshop will be the first of our many presentations and rituals in the service of the Divine Mother and all those who suffer in silence with perinatal loss. #perinatalloss #perinatalgrief #abortiongrief

Thanks to all our friends and family who supported us on our journey to the Parliament, including our dear colleagues at the Chaplaincy Institute.

Classic iconography of Mother Mary

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