Behind the name

When parents lose a child, there are many different rituals to mark their grief. However, when that loss happens before birth, it often isn't marked. Sometimes, it's barely even mentioned.

It's different in Japan, which has a traditional ceremony called Mizuko kuyo which translates as Water babies memorial service for those who have had a miscarriage, stillbirth or abortion.

In Japan, Jizo Bosatsu is widely recognised as the guardian of children who died, especially babies that were miscarried, aborted or still-born. He embodies supreme spiritual optimism and compassion.

You often encounter small Jizo statues in graveyards and it is not unusual to see them wearing a red hat. Parents put it there to ask for a child to be protected in the after-life.
Thus each time you see a Jizo statue, adorned with these clothes, you witness the pain of a parent. 

It is striking how, miscarriage has become a social reality in Japan compared to the West where it is still considered as a taboo subject.

 

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“A miscarriage is a natural and common event. Most don’t mention it, and they go on from day to day as if it hadn’t happened.
But ask her sometime: how old would your child be now? And she’ll know.”
— B. Kingsolver, American author and poet