Recently I attended a workshop led by Randy Severwson and Sharon Kaplan Roszia, therapists who work with adoptive families and members of the adoption triad. The focus of one session was using ceremonies and rituals to help heal losses. At the end of the workshop, they invited us to participate in a "ritual" to help heal our own losses. I would like to share my experience with you.
I initially went forward to join the circle of participants as an interesting way of experiencing the leaders’ methods and strategies. I soon found my self personally involved in the process and did in fact experience emotional healing.
Each of us who had chosen to participate (about 12) first told what loss we were wanting to focus upon. I chose the losses of infertility. Despite the fact that I have two children by adoption, aged six and two, the unsettled anxieties and longings of infertility still show themselves at times. I shared in the group that I grieve for my unborn children – the children I was never able to conceive, and for my inability to experience the connections with all womanhood that come through childbirth. As I spoke, I felt again those old pangs of loss and uncertainty.
Each one of us shared our loss – the death of a parent, the loss of a foster child, the loss of years not shared with older adopted children, and some others who still carried with them the residue of the monthly cycle of infertility grief.
Directed to a table filled with objects, we were asked to choose one that somehow spoke to our own grief – a shell, a rock, a picture from, a child’s toy – there were many to choose from. In silence we chose. Mine was a rock – black and shiny – like the earth, seemingly eternal, and yet hard, real.
In turn, we shared our reasons for choosing as we did. As my hand closed around this object – my chosen symbol of love and grief, I felt something shift a little. There was something reassuring about holding that rock – something that made my loss tangible in a way that had not happened before.
A poem was read, we held hands, then lit candles to remember, and to honor our grief, our loss.
The ceremony was simple – nothing strange, too unusual. I had not left my grief there – it was still mine. In a way, it was more fully mine than before – a part of me, a little more integrated into the rest of me. And I had this rock. Funny that it should feel so "right".
I held onto that rock that day, and the next. Then I put it on the living room mantle next to a flowerpot. When I see it I am touched. This grief, this part of me seems to be a little more at peace. Perhaps that’s what healing really is.