by Stephanie Larson, Dancing For Birth™ Founder
Thousands of families strive each day to cope and heal after the loss of their baby. In 1988 President Reagan proclaimed October as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month in the USA. It’s a painful subject that we don’t talk about often, as a society, which is why it’s so important for us to take this time to raise awareness about it. Many people don’t realize that approximately 1 out of every 4 pregnancies lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal loss, or infant loss.
For families that have experienced loss, the heartache is profound. Right when we need it most, we may find that our support system has vanished. Our grief is compounded by feeling abandoned and isolated. Friends and family often don’t know how to help or what to say when their loved one has gone through such a loss. They may delay calling or avoid visiting them out of fear of saying the wrong thing. It’s true that many phrases which are meant to comfort, such as “You can have another baby.” instead cause offense. Simply saying “I’m here for you” and actually showing up and being there is valuable and supportive.
Know this. Dance can heal grief and loss. Spoken language is inadequate to express and process the tangle of thoughts, moods, sensations and emotions that accompany bereavement. Dancing enables us to be in the present moment, feeling a sense of groundedness from connecting to our bodies, the earth and those dancing with us. Through dance we can value and experience all of our emotions in their authenticity. Pain can arise, be felt, and with a physical gesture be stomped into the ground or released into the air. Grief can move through like a wave. Instead of lodging deep within us, it can ebb and flow out through the swaying of our shoulders or circling of our hips. Thoughts can come and go, while the physicality of the dance reminds us we are alive and that through us our loved ones live on.
When we dance we feel a powerful sense euphoria, wellbeing and love arising from the ‘love hormone’ oxytocin. It’s produced in our bodies as we dance. This is why dancing together strengthens our bond with each other. It enables us to experience moments of hope and gratitude even during the worst circumstances. Dancing helps prevent depression and is effective at decreasing any existing depression.
It can be a temptation to think that hapiness will never come again and that if it does it somehow dishonors the memory of our lost loved one. Instead consider happiness as a way to honor their memory. A choreographed remembrance dance can beautifully honor them. Another way to cherish them is through intuitive movement that is totally spontaneous. There’s no wrong way to dance. So let’s turn up our favorite song, move our bodies and allow our grief and loss to gradually heal.
Have you experienced pregnancy or infant loss? What was most helpful to your healing process? Please share your comment below.
Resources for loss support:
Share Pregnancy and Loss Support with chapters nationwide
Dancing For Birth™ Class with locations on four continents
AMEND One-on-One contact for beareaved parents
COPE Foundation helping families living with the loss of a child
Stephanie Larson is a leading world expert on supporting pregnancy, birth and new parenthood through movement and instinct. She is the Founder and Master Trainer of Dancing For Birth™ the global pre/post natal class. Larson calls for an end to forced lithotomy position, and a worldwide shift to primal, powerful, euphoric birth and conscious parenting. Her speaking engagements and TV appearances include DONA International, Lamaze International, CAPPA, ICAN, CIMS, ICEA, CAPPA Canada, AWHONN, CBS, NBC and FOX. She ‘danced out’ her four babies in birth center, hospital and home births.