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A Ceremony for Children Who Have Died

Photo by Steph Wenderski
Related Information
Soko Chris Fortin
Jennifer Block
with Chris Fortin and Jennifer Block
at Green Gulch Farm

Sundays in 2015, 2 - 4:30 pm
March 8, 2015
October 11, 2015

In this afternoon event, people of all walks of life and loss gather to acknowledge and mourn the death of children—those born and unborn. We first create handmade offerings in the Japanese Buddhist tradition of Jizo Boddhisattva, and then say goodbye in a ceremony of remembrance and letting go. Our time together ends with a procession to the garden, where we tie paper prayers on the memorial cherry tree with the intention of nurturing the beings who have died and the beings who continue to live.

This memorial event originates in the Japanese Buddhist tradition of honoring of Jizo Bodhisattva. One of the most beloved figures of Japanese Buddhism, Jizo statues with childlike clothing and other remembrances are common on roadways, in parks and in cemeteries. Various items are placed on or near a statue as an offering and petition by grieving parents in hopes that Jizo will protect their lost child.

It is very common for those in attendance to be mourning a child who had not been born yet. Men and women are welcome. Couples, friends and families have found it quite healing to attend together. You are welcome to bring children, and please know there are several periods of quiet time. It works best if at least two adults attend the event so one can attend to the children if they are not able or willing to participate in the quiet time. There is outdoor space to explore/enjoy if this is the case.
  • Part 1 of our time together is for creating personal, unique fabric offerings to be used in the ceremony. We will provide fabric, scissors, needle and thread. You are welcome to bring your own fabric as well. Red is the traditional color used for Jizo offerings, but not essential. Much of this time is spent in shared silence so we may each be with our own story and experience.
  • Part 2 is a ceremony of dedication for the beloved children who have died. Everyone is invited to approach the altar, which is adorned with flowers and statues of various figures of compassion, including Jizo Bodhisattva, Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Francis, angels and the like. You can make an incense offering, place your fabric creation on or with a compassion figure, and speak aloud or silently communicate your wishes for the well being of your child.
  • Part 3 is a silent group procession to the memorial garden, where we hand tie paper prayers in a special cherry tree. There is time for lingering and enjoying the beauty of the garden, and the beach is a 20-minute walk away for those with the time and energy.

Fees: Cost is $15 per person plus an offering of dana (the practice of giving or generosity) to support the teachers and the teaching.

To Register: Please visit the registration page. For more information please contact Jennifer Block at 415.246.7664 or revjblock@gmail.com.

Related Bio(s):

Soko Chris Fortin
Chris is a Zen priest and teacher who received dharma transmission from Zoketsu Norman Fischer. She is a licensed MFT psychotherapist and spiritual counselor who has combined psychotherapy and spirituality for over 25 years in her private practice. She began practicing Buddhism at San Francisco Zen Center in 1976. More...

Jennifer Block
Jennifer Block is an Interfaith minister and Buddhist chaplain who has practiced Zen, Insight Meditation, and Yoga since 1988. Her life’s work is providing spiritual care to people in crisis, mentoring caregivers, and teaching people how to access their innate capacity for caring and healing.