The Daily News

LFCA Latest Issue: Friday, September 25, 2009.

Latest Post on BlogHer: Parenting after Infertility.

My Status: Fed Josh's almonds to the squirrels. They needed them very badly.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

In Through the Out Door

The Temple Mount in Jerusalem is one of the holiest spaces in the city. The site is where the Temple once stood before it was destroyed. The largest accessible portion of the retaining wall that enclosed the Temple Mount is the Western Wall. That's probably the space that immediately jumped to mind when I mentioned Jerusalem--that large stone wall where people go to pray. On the southern portion of the Temple Mount, you can see the Hulda Gates. They were the gates used at least three times a year by pilgrims flocking to the Temple during the three festivals: Pesach, Shavout, and the holiday that is happening today--Succot.

Every time a pilgrim came to the Temple, they would enter through the eastern gates and exit through the western ones.

Except when they were in mourning.

Those in mourning entered against the stream of bodies through the western gates and exited out the eastern side, giving everyone a very clear and visible reminder that they were in need of comfort. Most of the time, people did not know one another at the Temple. It was a pilgrimage site, therefore, visitors may have come from Jerusalem, but they may have come as far away as Egypt. And this was how everyone knew to speak to the stranger about their loss.

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. Some people are mourning today and no one in their workplace has the slightest idea that they've even suffered a loss. Some people are mourning today and are doing so in silence because everyone avoided them when the loss occurred and they don't want to repeat that feeling of separation. Some people are mourning today and no one knows quite how to comfort them.

What we need is a space to walk in through the out door.

Unlike the loss of an adult--who has lived his or her own life, collected friends and family members, built memories--when a baby dies, he or she is often only mourned by the parents and a few close friends or family members. A baby who dies in utero is even more abstract to outside mourners.

Which is why it is even more important to create ritual that allows others into the mourning space. It is a way of honouring the loss as well as gathering comfort from community. The established ritual for this day is to light a candle at 7 p.m. in your own time zone, which creates a wave of light as each candle is lit. I encourage you to also find your own figurative out door to walk through today (or, if you're feeling gutsy, find an actual exit to enter). To reach out to others in mourning as well as let people know that you are remembering someone (or more than one loss) who was very important to you.

Several thousand years ago, mourners were announcing their loss on this day at the Temple Mount. I hope they received the comfort they were seeking. I hope you do as well.


Kristin said...

Wow...what a beautiful post. Thank you Mel.

Cara said...


I know you have had a rough couple weeks grieving varied parts of your road.

I hope you find what you need today as well.


Jendeis said...

I love this idea. Will light my candle tonight.

Grad3 said...

Beautiful. Thank you Mel.

cmstovall said...

I will definitely light a candle tonight. This subject has been on my mind even more these days, and tomorrow I am going for beta #1 after IUI #who-can-count-that-high-anymore. After so many losses and so many friends who have had losses, I know that even if we are blessed with a positive result, I won't get that pure joy a non-IFer gets. My positive beta joy would come wrapped in worry, fear, and the anxiety that another loss is possible. But the candle tonight will remind me that I am not alone, and that I WILL be a mother someday, somehow.

Patricia said...

Beautiful, the visual of the door.

There's more info here, too. I'm off to post on it. Sorry, I don't know how to make a linky loo here.

Jen J said...


Thank you! As someone who's only had Chemical Pregnancies (still waiting for that ellusive BFP+) I've stopped even telling people about my losses because they tell me "Oh! It's not like you REALLY had a miscarriage!"


Today my candle will be lit for everyone who has ever lost a baby - at ANY stage of development!

LJ said...

I do like the idea of lighting a candle tonight - great post as alway, btw, my dear.

Jen said...

That is a beautiful analogy. I've got my candle ready.

Vacant Uterus said...

Mel, that was beautifully done. I'm crying.

Dora said...

Beautiful post, Mel. My candle is burning.

nonlineargirl said...

It is so hard to know what a mourner needs, and that can keep people from reaching out. For me, knowing people care even when they don't have the words has helped a lot. I hope we all can remember that people care and mourn with us, even when they don't know how to say so.

Bea said...

This is a great post. I love those silent rituals we used to have to let people know what we were going through. The black arm band. The entering through a different door. In many ways, we've been too quick about throwing that away.