Winternights: For Lost Children

We’re heading into Winternights here, which is the time for honoring the Beloved Dead. Usually we think of this as being in terms of Ancestors – those who bore us, raised us, taught us, influenced us, or otherwise made changes in the world with their hands and minds and wills.

But it’s also the time to remember those we lost before they had a chance to do any of those things. The Beloved Dead includes our lost children.

A few years ago, friends of mine had a traumatic late term miscarriage. They’d asked me to help them put together a non-theistic memorial for their lost daughter.

I asked them to write about their feelings and experience a bit, so that the ritual could be a very personal catharsis for them. The ritual I designed was framed by suitable music in sections, giving them each several opportunities to process their emotions out loud, to share their internal experience with each other and the trusted friends they’d asked to witness.

I couldn’t find any music for a ritual for them that really addressed their feelings, or even just the concept of losing a child before birth, that wasn’t overtly Christian in content. Everything referenced assurances that the child was now with God in Heaven.

Contemplating their loss while driving one day this song jumped up and down on my head demanding to be written, as songs sometimes do. After I wrote it all out, they gave me the journal entries I asked them to write, and I discovered that some of the phrases in the song that I’d found a little awkward when they came pouring out of my brain were word for word things the two of them had written that I hadn’t yet read.

The ceremony itself went beautifully. We held it along a regional park trail with a creek. They spoke their sorrows, and spilled their daughter’s meager ashes, and left her flowers along the way. I lead the way and sang music by Heather Alexander and Sarah McLachlan, and the song I wrote.  Several of their friends came to witness with empathy and respect. When we were done, they were embraced, and we all went to share a meal in Kaylee’s honor before parting ways.

With their blessing, this is song available for future use for others in similar situations. It’s open for general use, as long as you don’t take credit for my work, or make money without my permission.

I don’t play piano, but I can hear that it’s a piano song when it plays in my head, so I’m looking for a Piano composer to help me make a better version to share. They have to be willing to let their score and recording be shared on the same basis as the vocals – free for non-profit use with credit.

For Kaylee
Conceived May 2010
Lost October 2010

And for all children lost before birth. May you find your way to the life or afterlife you need.



About EmberVoices

Ember Cooke has been a member of Hrafnar and Seidhjallr for more than a decade, where she trained to be a Seidhkona, Galdrakona, and Gythia. She founded the Vanic Conspiracy and made ordination vows to the Vanir and her congregation in the summer of 2013. She has contributed to several publications on Heathen and Northern Pagan subjects and regularly presents rituals and workshops at festivals. Her personal practice is more diverse, as the Vanir have lead her into cross-training and service for the wider Pagan community. This has including medium and servitor training in American Umbanda, clergy training with the Fellowship of the Spiral Path, and jail ministry for local counties. She holds a BA with honors in Religious Studies from Santa Clara University. Ember has lived all her life in the south San Francisco Bay Area, and is intimately bound to the valley of her birth.
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