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Saturday, November 22, 2014

NO DEATH RITUALS: Miscarriage has no funeral

by Susan Fox

My poetry teacher said, "Blues poetry is about being in the hard place. So now we are going to write about death ." 

Death Rituals celebrated in context of community are necessary for healing deep grief over the loss of a loved one. Unfortunately, in a miscarriage these rituals do not take place. I had two miscarriages.  My father died when I was four, and my mother tried to protect me by keeping me at home during the funeral. This was a mistake. 

Lunch at the Space Needle; second child lost.
I was sitting on the toilet, bleeding his loss.
No sitting with the body; no praying for the dead…
My son saying, “Mommie, in your belly, the baby’s dead.”

When my Daddy died, I bounced on his bed.
Got home from New Orleans: “No funeral,” Mom said.
Under a grey blanket, I was left behind.
No sitting with the body, no crossing the line.

The first child came out whole.
Took him to the doctor: they want to know.
They took my baby’s body, his familiar head.
No sitting with the body, no crying for the dead.

Mom had a funeral; came the town.
Amazed, mourners passed me, greeting the crowd;
“Didn’t she love her?’ I wore red.
I was finally sitting with the body and praying for the dead.

"The blues is an impulse to keep the painful details and episodes of a brutal experience alive in one's aching consciousness, to finger its jagged grain, and then transcend it, not by the consolation of philosophy but by squeezing from it a near-tragic, near-comic lyricism. As a form, the blues is an autobiographical chronicle of personal catastrophe expressed lyrically." (Ralph Ellison)

Read another Blues Poem for An American Lost by the same author.


  1. I was five years old when Bomy Lily, my Mom's Mom, died. I went to the funeral with my mother's blessing, which scandalized my Graga. Her casket remained at home until then not in a funeral parlor. I said to my Mom, she was sleeping. She was -- in the bosom of Abraham. Requiescat in pace, +

  2. God bless you Earl Appleby. My mother thought she was "protecting" me when she would not allow me to go to my father's funeral. That was a good-hearted mistake. Susan Fox

  3. Susan, I have heard lately that we can have funeral Masses for miscarried or stillborn children. If that's true, why are we not told about it? The Catholic hospital where I would have delivered my baby asked me to give them the remains, which I did. I very much regret that now. Why did they want the remains? What was done with my child's body? I don't even know. I think this is an area where Catholics need to be given much more information.

  4. Sharon, The hospital said I had to bring the remains or they wouldn't do a DNC. That was a lie, obviously as I could have said, "Whoops, we flushed the toilet." But when it happens you are so disturbed that you can't think straight. I assume they burned the remains with the bodies of aborted children. I asked for a Mass for Raphael, my first miscarriage. Ironically, the priest feared I believed in limbo and wouldn't do it. So I went to the pastor, and he arranged for that priest to say the Mass, but he wrote it in the book as his own "special intention." This was 1986. I hope things have changed. I had the pope say Mass for "Raphael Fox." And got him the apostolic blessing post mortem so I guess I had a funeral Mass, yes? God bless you. Miscarriages are the worst thing I think. Susan Fox

  5. Thank you Ma'am for the poignant poem.Also grateful for the insights and exchange shared with those who have commented.It took me close to 10 years, I guess to overcome guilt as in the case of my wife a DNC was done. She was losing blood and deteriorating very rapidly. The ultrasound said...NON VIABLE GESTATION. And probably infection was setting in. But I consulted a Canon Lawyer Priest. He said that in this case the mother's life needs to saved.There was a massive Earthquake while she was in the OT. I thought God was angry! But Ma'am's articles about God's mercy and the non existence of Limbo have really helped in the healing. I call baby whose with The Trinity, Emma.
    Emma, pray for us.