A Ceremony for Children Who Have Died, GGF 10/29

With Chris Fortin and Sarah Emerson
in the Zendo at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center

Sunday, October 29, 2017, 2 – 4:30 pm

The loss of a loved one, especially a child, whether recent or in the past, always impacts our lives indelibly. No matter how the child dies, born or unborn, whether through illness, accident, miscarriage, abortion, or suicide, our sorrow is deep and often wants to find expression in our lives. Jizo Bodhisattva is a Buddhist figure known as the guardian of children and travelers, and particularly of children crossing over from this life. This ceremony allows family and friends to give time and space to open to our grief and acknowledge the children whose passings have touched our lives so deeply. During this quiet afternoon, as we work alongside one another in silence, making a personal memorial for our loved ones by writing a message or sewing a small garment, we make room for nurturing and tending both the beings who have died and those who continue to live.

This memorial event originates in the Japanese Buddhist tradition of honoring Jizo Bodhisattva. One of the most beloved figures of Japanese Buddhism, Jizo statues are common on roadways, in parks and in cemeteries, where various items are placed on or near a statue as an offering and petition to Jizo to help guide and protect their loved ones as they make the passage from life into death.

Everyone is welcome who has experienced a loss, and 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 those 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. The group then processes in silence to City Center’s courtyard, where we hand-tie wind offerings/paper prayers in honor of our loved ones who have died.

Suggested donation: $20 per person; $40 per family. Donations will be split between the temple and teachers. No one turned away.

Registration: To register, please call the Green Gulch Farm main office at 415.383.3134 or the SFZC Reservations Office at 888.743.9362 or 415.475.9362.

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