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Mizuko Kuy: A Ceremony for Loss

by Lisa Meyerson LAc

Recently, NPR presented a show on the Japanese buddhist ritual for women who have had miscarriages and pregnancy losses. Around that time, I saw a patient who was on her way to Japan to participate in the ceremony. She had a late term miscarriage and was devastated to return to work and share the news with her coworkers. Because of the late stage of pregnancy, She was not able to grieve privately. The ceremony in Japan provided her with this opportunity.

For anyone who has experienced a miscarriage, the pain is difficult to articulate and hard to explain to one who hasn’t gone through it. Although it my be described in words, no one can really understand it unless they’ve experienced this kind of loss themselves. It’s similar to Persephone, possibly, after she was dragged into the Underworld. I imagine that, upon her return, no one could really understand where she had been unless they’d gone to that place, too. And it is likely the pain of a miscarriage or pregnancy termination is even too painful even for mythological comparison.

In Japan, the ritual called Mizuko kuyo was created during the Edo periiod (between 1603 and 1868). Mizuko translates as ‘water fetus’ or child who died. In the ritual, an offering is made to Jizo, a bodhisattva believed to protect children.

You can listen to the NPR story here:

Or read more about loss ceremonies here: