Thank God for Chrissy Teigen
Last night the cookbook author, television host and Instagram queen Chrissy Teigen lost her baby. Jack would have been the third child for Teigen and her husband John Legend.
Like everything else in her life, Teigen put it right out there on Instagram for the world to see. While most of the comments have been supportive, heartfelt–including many by women who have suffered the same loss, some have criticized Teigen for talking so openly about such a “personal and private matter.”
Horsefeathers! Malarkey! Hogwash! And every other adorably corny Joe Biden word that doesn’t draw the ire of censors.
One in four women has suffered a pregnancy loss. One in four! Losing a baby is a devastating experience, and it’s only been in the last few years that people have begun to recognize that the loss of a baby who never made it to birth can be just as painful a loss as that of a child that makes it to term.
We in the Western world are finding new ways to grieve and honor such losses, but our Japanese friends have long recognized the need to name such grief. Children are called mizuko or child of the water, as they never make it beyond the water of the womb. There is even a ritual called Mizuko Kuyo where children are buried in the backyard of the parents homes and considered “returned to the water.”
There are parks designed specifically for the mizuko. Parents can buy a stone tomb and place a statue of Jizo, a divinity in Japanese Buddhism who protects children who have died before their parents. The parks often contain swings, slides, and other playground equipment. While their other children play, parents take a bow to honor their mizuko. They also bring toys and flowers and light candles to honor them.
The Japanese culture recognizes the enormity of a pregnancy loss and the need to honor, grieve and ritualize that loss. Our own culture is slowly coming around, yet many women and their partners suffer in silence or do not receive the community support they need after a miscarriage.
Thank God for Chrissy Teigen, who used her hugely popular platform to share the loss and the grief that so many others have experienced. She shows us that pregnancy loss is something we can and should talk about.
When someone you love suffers a pregnancy loss, treat it like a death in the family…because that’s what it is. Take food. Send cards. If there is a memorial service, be sure to attend. Check in with the family (because it is a loss for the entire family) in the days and weeks to follow to see how they are doing.
The 15th of this month is Infant and Pregnancy Loss Remembrance Day. It’s an excellent opportunity to remember a child that was lost and honor the family who still grieves.
May God’s blessing and the full support of loved ones be with Teigen and her family and with all those who suffer this devastating loss.
Rev. Anne Russ is an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA), currently based in New York City. Doubting Believer provides tools and encouragement for the rollercoaster ride of your faith journey. Follow us on Facebook and get emails to keep up with all that is happening.