“ She is cold. It scares me, this cold - it is witness to what I already know. I hold her in my hand. 125 grams and 19 cm long - half the length of a normal baby, but so thin."
I wrote this on the day my daughter was born prematurely in the 5th pregnancy month on Valentines day, after we induced the birth due to heavy birth defects. For a long time, I couldn’t talk about it, I hid it from my neighbours and friends. For a while, I couldn’t mention the fact that the birth was induced and therefore a choice. I felt that I was not entitled to grief like a mother who lost her child in a more natural way. My grief was inter-twinned with shame and guilt.
“The sky is blue. The sun is shining. The wind is blowing, the birds are chirping. Within me there is an unending scream. Within me, the world is dying. Within me there is whole in my chest. A whole in my belly. A whole in my womb. “
"Why doesn't the sky turn green? Why doesn't the sun cry? Why am I still here undamaged? Why did nothing changed on the outside?"
I remember that feeling, I had the days after the birth. I was expecting the strike of a lightning, a flood, a fire, a sky turned the wrong color. But nothing happened on the outside.
More than 3 years have passed now and I want to share my story with you and what I have learned since then. I want to talk about grief. I want to talk about death, about miscarriage, about abortion. I want to talk about that what we do not talk about.
I want to talk about my stillborn daughter, Nadejda - “hope” in Russian - who thought me about so many taboos in our society. I want to tell you how she brought me on a quest for healing, forgiveness, purpose, meaning and letting go. After her birth and death, I quit my well-paid job as an IT manager and went on a spiritual quest, woking within indigenous teachers, so called “wisdom keepers” from around the world, getting to know a part of the reality I had no experience with before. As a very scientifically oriented person, my world was limited to what I thought was possible and true and what I had learned in school and university.
By now, I have learned that the world is not what we think it is. I have experienced the power of rituals, dance, movements, sounds and drums to access our subconscious and to release anything that is stuck.
The African Wisdom Keeper “Malidoma Some” describes how grief is honoured in his culture with at least three days long grieving and crying rituals. The non ending day long laments and songs initiated and held by the women, carry the whole tribe into releasing their grief through singing and crying. Strong emotions like grief must sound through our body otherwise they gets stuck. Sound and music can create a space where we feel it is ok to cry and to let it all out. Karin Jana Beck and Matthias Gerber regularly create such spaces in Winterthur.
Even though there is strong scientific evidence for the benefits of this practice, how do we deal with strong emotions personally and in our western society? Are we facing it? Are we running from it? Are we letting it flood our world or are we keeping it under control? What would be possible for us if we would allow anger, rage, shame, guilt and sadness to be expressed more fully?
We tend to carry too much responsibility for everyone around us. We repress our feelings for the sake of harmony and the well-being of others. I used to worry about people feeling sad when I told them I lost a child. I was so scared about people not being able to handle my grief. I took on the responsibility on how others were feeing, which was not mine to carry. I repressed my thoughts, my feelings, my movements out of the fear of being too much, out of empathy for the others. I took it all in in my greatest silence.
In my session with the women's hub on the 19th of May, I want to invite you to do the opposite. To sound, to move, to voice, to give life to your shadows and that what you have been hiding in your closet. As much as you feel comfortable with or maybe a little bit beyond. You choose. I will guide us with the drum. If you can't attend I have recorded a short meditation with the drum to help you process difficult feelings.
„Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open to everything, your pain can become your greatest ally" Rumi