Loss, grief and trauma – these are such heavy realities to carry. Often overlooked by society and misunderstood as weak or too uncomfortable to talk about, too taboo. And so it becomes isolating and even heavier. But the silence is being broken. In New Zealand’s pioneer culture incredibly strong and inspiring people are beginning to share their stories of struggle and of rising above and finding their power. More and more people are finding commonalities, and there is strength, beauty and healing in that itself. It is normal, to feel emotional as a human being, and it is necessary to heal in order to thrive.
No one can tell you how to heal, how to begin your journey. Every story is different, every person is different and we find endless ways to connect, reach inward, breathe and rise again.
But it is necessary. Sadness, and all the accompanying emotions need to be expressed or they become stagnant. Stagnant emotions become physical manifestations, clouded judgment, limits to how we live, parent our children and love our partners.
They inhibit our joy and ability to be present. Later down the road we know
that feelings of fear, anger and uncertainty have the ability to inhibit physiological birth, bonding and the postpartum experiences, which can deeply affect women throughout their lives.
And so we know that we must begin, we must heal, but when someone in is a place of deep grief it can feel impossible to see any sort of solution. Like being in a jar of soil and water that’s been shaken, we are clouded.
And so it becomes necessary to reach out, to find the healers in the community or connect with one across the world; therapists, light workers, groups and workshops, even a good friend can be transformative. Tell your story, in all its raw truth, to someone who can simply hold space and hear you. Surround yourself with supportive people who understand the importance and ceremony of this process. Sisterhood is powerful. Cry as often as you need, when you need it, even if its years down the road. Survive when you just need to survive, and then take one step.
When you are ready, ceremony can be a gentle yet powerful way towards transformation. It can be multilayered and involve a group of your most trusted friends or be a single, simple ritual performed once a day or as needed in the beginning, the essence and meaning changing as you go.
Regardless of what you choose, there is power in ceremony when you open yourself up to the higher meaning. Here are a few of my own most treasured practices –
- Deep Self Care – You cannot pour from an empty cup. Make time for yourself, be shamelessly indulgent each day, even if for just five minutes, make time for your process, invite what you need for healing.
- Meditation – Begin with a simple practice of clearing your thoughts and inviting forgiveness and love each morning. Put your hand on your heart and ask “How can I step into my power today” then let any expectation go on the next breath.
- Pulling a card – Find a good deck that resonates with you, I love the Goddess Oracle deck by Amy Sophia Marashinsky. Gentle guidance can be just what you need to clear those muddy thoughts and find focus.
- Art therapy – Pastels, painting, watercolor, whatever you choose don’t worry about the end product, enjoy the process. Don’t think, let go, infuse your canvas with emotions rather than a picture. When you’re done you can reflect for a while or release the image.
- Fire Release Ceremony – On a piece of paper write any fears or negativity you want to clear, take a deep breath, then burn it with love. You can alter this to suit your emotions; screaming out then throwing a rock into the ocean or writing thoughts on sticks then sending them down the river.
- Writing – Once again, let go, don’t think about what you’re going to write, just begin. This could be a journal entry or something more specific. One exercise I like to use in workshops is writing the sentence “when I think about my healing journey I feel…” then quickly and spontaneously write 12 ending.
The most important thing is to take time for you, without a beginning there can be no resolution, no break through.
Now as you grow and shift you may be preparing for your next baby, your next birth. A commonality between women that I’ve worked with is a feeling of never being completely ready after a loss, never feeling completely fearless, and that’s ok. Its how you will choose to honour and deal with that fear. In facing those raw emotions you gain power over them.
It is surrounding yourself with people who will remind you of trust and
love when you begin to feel consumed by fear, people who honour your
vulnerabilities while recognizing and reminding you of your strength. Perhaps
this is your partner, family members or friends, perhaps a doula who knows
birth and the interconnectedness between loss and life, because birth is an
intense journey, even without having experienced loss. It is incredibly
powerful and often necessary to birth in a place where you feel absolutely safe,
held, where you feel you can be as you are without interruption.
Claim the experience as your own, regardless of what happens. Prepare for the uncertainty of it, of feeling comfortable while experiencing discomfort and feeling in control by releasing all control.
So as uncomfortable as it is, begin to explore all of the emotions during pregnancy. Release anything that doesn’t serve you, with love. Call in strength and trust, call in joy. Take the time to connect with your story, with the baby you’re carrying now. Perhaps hold a Mother Honoring ceremony for your journey into motherhood that began when you very first conceived or a Mother Blessing ceremony for the mother you will become. Connect with your partner, honor their story and what they need in order to be a part of this next positive and empowering experience. And when the time comes and labor begins, throw logic out the window, lean deeply into your heart space, your primal knowing, and prepare for the most miraculous celebration of transition and welcoming, blessed be!
Marisa Wright is a Birth and Postpartum doula, Educator and Mama of two beautiful boys. She holds Mother Honoring and Mother Blessing Ceremonies as well as Positive Birth and Birth Trauma Support Circles in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.
For more information please see: NewZealandDoula.com