Losing a child can be very painful, even if that child is yet to be born. In fact, many parents who experienced miscarriages feel the pain is deeper because there is very little to acknowledge the loss. There is no body, so no funeral, and no ritual to cleanse the grief or placate the disturbed souls. In cultures across the world, mourning rites and rituals are often elaborate, but only for deaths, not for lost motherhoods.
But things are different in Japan, where there is a traditional Buddhist ceremony to grieve miscarriages, stillbirths, and even willful abortions. This ritual is called mizuko kuyō, literally “water child memorial service”, and it is practiced in temples across Japan and also in private in people’s homes.
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A Jizo statue wearing a red bib in the garden at Sanzenin Temple in Kyoto, Japan. Photo credit: jukurae / Shutterstock.com