I've been reading the comments on The Japanese Art of Grieving a Miscarriage, and there are two overwhelming consensuses:
1) Pregnancy loss--whether through miscarriage or abortion--is incredibly painful.
2) Something needs to be done to make the experience less lonely.
So I'm going to try.
Shallow cultural appropriation aside, I'm creating a virtual Jizo garden. If you have a Jizo statue (or any memorial to a lost child--piercings, tattoos, shrines, ornaments, etc.) and would like to submit a photo, please contact me below. I love the idea of seeing Jizos together as you see them in Japan. Perhaps in full force, we can all feel a little less alone.
Message me a picture at facebook.com/hiangelaelson.
Like so many of my attempts at becoming a real writer, I expected my latest--The Japanese Art of Grieving a Miscarriage in the New York Times--would fade to obscurity in a matter of minutes. However, two days since publication, the piece has been shared over 7,000 times: and that's just on Facebook.
The comments have been overwhelming. People have shared their support of my little Jizo as well as their stories surrounding their own losses--some occurring recently; others, decades ago. I like hearing them. I like to think they make all of us feel a little less alone, and I'm thrilled that the magic of writing brought us all together.
I've always considered myself a comedian, but the Jizo piece isn't a joke. While I would never be so bold as to claim I have the ability to help people, I do hope my story proves useful to people who are grieving in similar ways. And if there's anything else I can do, let me know. That thousands of people care about my absent child as much as I do satisfies both the mother and the writer in me. I am crushed.
Here is a picture of Jizo in my garden. For the second anniversary, I went for a hoodie in terms of crochet. It could have gone better.
I'm fortunate that my story has a happy ending. I fell pregnant with my second child a month after the miscarriage. He is almost a year old now: teething, putting his fingers in sockets, refusing to nap. I don't appreciate him nearly enough.
Thank you for reading,
If you absolutely must have a miscarriage, I recommend writing about it in The New York Times. It's a great way to memorialize the baby who got away, and you might get an extremely cute illustration out of it.
Thank you to Roberta Zeff for the opportunity to share my story. If you are in need of a Jizo, you can get one here.