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Sep 7, 2013

Coping With Miscarriage as an Atheist

After finding out we had lost the baby, I went online to find a community I could talk to and relate to.  I just wanted to talk to other moms who were grieving like I was, but it turned out to be hard to find the right place.

I never really believed in any god, whether it be the one my church worshiped, the ones I learned about in fourth grade while studying the Greeks, any sort of benevolent spirits my friends prayed to while rebelling against their parents... I just couldn't find a way to believe that something out there had some grand plan for me, or wouldn't intervene when terrible things happened all over the world.  My family had quite a few deaths when I was young - grandparents, great grandparents, beloved pets, my beautiful Aunt Violet, a boy in the class above me at school, my friend from summer camp... and each time I experienced loss and grief, I felt further and further away from any idea of a spiritual world or afterlife.  What kind of god takes a 12 year old with a brain tumor, after she's already experienced months of difficult and sickening treatments?  What kind of god lets a boy lay down for a nap and never wake up again (aneurysm).  I couldn't believe any being would be so cruel to a family.

So when I sat in front of the computer that first night, knowing my dead baby would be inside me for only a few more hours, I searched for a group of people I could talk to who would welcome and maybe even understand me.  Every group had "angel babies" and statements about being with god, and god needed another angel, and "he" had a plan all along that some day we would understand.  What possible plan could someone have to take my first baby from me?  It certainly wouldn't be a kind god that would do such a thing?  I found much more comfort in scientific answers.  Our baby probably had a chromosomal abnormality - something that would prevent it from living, or cause a painful and slow death once born.  There is small comfort in knowing that it never felt pain or experienced loss.  It was never aware of its life, so it couldn't be confused and afraid when that life ended.  THAT is what brought me comfort.

Our baby is dead.  Gone.  In some ways it was never even alive.  And that sucks.  It hurts and it makes me angry and sad and afraid for what might happen if we get pregnant again.  It didn't become an angel, and I wont be reunited with it when I die, and I'm fine with that.  It does live on in our memory and our actions.  I took the ultrasound and placed it inside an E.E. Cummings book that I've always loved, and that holds one of my favorite poems:

[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in 

The book is still in its shelf, because I don't want to bury it or be rid of it ever.  I also bought a little statue on Amazon:

Here is some info on this little guy, thanks to Wikipedia:

In Japan, Ksitigarbha, known as Jizō, or Ojizō-sama as he is respectfully known, is one of the most loved of all Japanese divinities. His statues are a common sight, especially by roadsides and in graveyards. Traditionally, he is seen as the guardian of children, and in particular, children who died before their parents. He has been worshiped as the guardian of the souls of mizuko, the souls of stillborn, miscarried or aborted fetuses, in the ritual of mizuko kuyō (水子供養, lit. offering to water children). In Japanese mythology, it is said that the souls of children who die before their parents are unable to cross the mythical Sanzu River on their way to the afterlife because they have not had the chance to accumulate enough good deeds and because they have made the parents suffer. It is believed that Jizō saves these souls from having to pile stones eternally on the bank of the river as penance, by hiding them from demons in his robe, and letting them hear mantras.
 It's a nice little keepsake that gives us a physical memorial since we had no body to bury or anything like that.

We all mourn in our own ways, and I have plenty of respect for people who fall back on their faith to hold them through troubled times.  I even envy them some, since it seems like it would be pretty comforting to think of our baby as an angel or believe I'll meet it in some afterlife.  I hope people can respect our mourning and loss as well.
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