Grief, Pregnancy Loss, and Reproductive Justice Resources

I wanted to take a moment to share some of the resources that have been deeply impactful to me and my work in the areas of Grief, Pregnancy Loss, and Reproductive Justice in the hopes that they are helpful resources for you. Whether you are grieving a loss, searching for ways to hold and process your grief, wanting to become a bereavement or death doula, or wanting to learn more about reproductive justice, below are a few resources spanning these areas that have been incredibly educational and rich resources for me to both show up to with my grief and to learn as I continue to deepen my work as a bereavement doula.

Return To Zero: HOPE— RTZ HOPE is a national non-profit organization that provides holistic support, resources, and community for all people who have experienced unimaginable loss during the journey to parenthood. I was selected as a Luminary in their pregnancy loss provider mentorship program and am so grateful for all that I learned in my time there before I had to leave to help care for my father as he faced liver failure. I learned so much in my time in that program and also offer their supportive resource materials to bereaved birthing persons and families I hold space with. This incredible organization offers a deep wealth of loss materials for providers and support group trainings for birthing persons, partners, grandmothers, and families.

Inviting Abundance — brings their backgrounds as grieving parents, PhD researchers, performing artists, university teachers, healers, and published authors to their offerings in Grief Work, Learning/Teaching Support, and Reiki Healing. Driven by their experience as grieving parents, they created Inviting Abundance to offer something that didn’t yet exist– a place where grief work, individual and group education, self-care, and alternative healing combine into a holistic suite of services for people from all walks of life. They offer incredibly informative and supportive resources specific to pregnancy loss as well as creative grief-work for those personally holding grief as well as for doulas and death-workers. I’ve taken several of their courses and have found incredibly resourcing information about my own grief as well as a wealth of equity-centered pregnancy loss training information and am looking forward to their Grief Immersion for Death-workers this fall.

Institute for Birth, Breath, and Death— An inspiring and nurturing organization/community dedicated to furthering the development and professional skill set of those called to hold space for birthing, living, and dying. I’ve taken their Pregnancy Loss Support certificate training and am attending their Trauma for Birth and Death Doulas course later this month. 

Homegrown Families– This incredible Asheville-based nonprofit’s mission is to create a diverse, sustainable birth and postpartum doula workforce while simultaneously increasing access to education and doula services across under-resourced and historically marginalized communities. They are an infinite resource for Western N.C. in learning about birth/loss disparity as well as a space to find a doula or train to become a doula. I’ve completed loss and abortion doula trainings and am wrapping up postpartum training this fall.

Stillborn And Infant Loss Support (SAILS)– is dedicated to helping those  who have lost their child by letting them know that they are not alone. SAILS provides a platform of community, mentorship, education and advocacy to families impacted by pregnancy loss or the death of a baby before their first birthday. I first reached out to SAILS after seeing their call to add my baby’s name to their remembrance wall, which I did. I realized it was the first time I’d seen my baby’s name shared somewhere and it was deeply impactful for me in my healing journey and ability to hold her in community. Sadija, the founder also spoke during the Pregnancy Loss training I attended in 2021 sharing her personal story of loss as Ivyanna’s mother, who was born sleeping in 2003 and it was deeply impactful to hear how she has supported families through loss since. I attend their Survivor’s Summit each year and am deeply grateful for the community they hold for loss moms.

Have questions about these resources? Feel free to reach out.

Deepening Mind + Body Connection

How do we move our stories through our bodies? What I love about working with somatics in partnership with narrative therapy is the ability to not only identify and place words to the narrative of the deeply held moments of our lived experiences, but the vital component of then getting out of the thinking mind and into the feeling and exploring of where it lives in the body.

What is the shape of it? Does it feel sharp like a pang in the stomach or dull and deep in the low back or the chest? Can you breathe into it? If you close your eyes and sway with it, does it feel soothed or anxious? These are the types of questions we call forth in session together to help draw intentional awareness to holding these experiences in the body not just in our words and way of thinking, speaking, and writing them, yet also in allowing them space to be felt, accepted and deeply known as we invite them forward in tender ways.

“The body, not the thinking brain, is where we experience most of our pain, pleasure, and joy, and where we process most of what happens to us. It is also where we do most of our healing, including our emotional and psychological healing. And it is where we experience resilience and a sense of flow.” — Resmaa Menakem, My Grandmother’s Hands

Have questions around how we can work together? Feel free to reach out using the contact form here on my website.

Relaxing Into our Parasympathetic Nervous Systems

When our bodies are experiencing stress, our sympathetic nervous systems are activated in what is known as “fight or flight” mode. Our breath becomes shallow. Our muscles tense. Our bodies undergo a full shift, using a hormonal web waiting beneath the surface to help us in times of crisis. These hormonal shifts that create the fight or flight response allow us to make quick decisions using hyperactive bursts of energy intended to help save our lives. Unfortunately, given the compounded stressors of our late-stage capitalist culture, our bodies are accessing and needing them too often and remaining in them for unhealthy periods of time. This repeated activation of our stress response can lead to high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, addiction, and well you get the point.

So, one of the most important tools we have access to is our ability to return to our parasympathetic or resting nervous system. This other half of our autonomic nervous system helps us maintain a resting heart rate, controls our metabolism, and resting bronchial constriction (essentially our heart rate at rest). Knowing how to reset our systems after they’ve been activated and even stay within our parasympathetic nervous system more often is vital for our health. Like anything worth learning, it just requires a little training. Our parasympathetic systems largely use a nerve called the vagus nerve, the longest and most complex of our cranial nerves. When we relax and down-regulate our nervous systems from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic, the vagus nerve communicates to the brain what the body is doing versus the brain responding and telling the body to react. Mmm, how lovely for our bodies to be leading the way as our brains listen in and follow.

There are many ways to activate our parasympathetic nervous systems, which over time helps decrease our risk of cardiac disease and stroke, naturally increases our metabolism, and makes us feel better in our emotional and physical health. The most common ways to sink into this important resting system are through breath, exercise, being in nature, talk therapy, sleep, and meditation. I wrote the poem below as a piece that will help you do just that and relax into yourself. Through understanding and tuning this nerve, we have a forever resource that just may help prolong our lives.

Our Careful Tending

I have been given a vine. It’s long and unwieldy. I study its length, look at around at the overwhelming mass from which it stems. I see others with their ends and middles and off-shoots.

I begin to weave forward and over as best I can with the thickness of this root. Others around me do the same, searching for their under over pattern, their out and through. I look back in the hopes that my movements are untangling the mass as I go.

A hum enters my belly and my eyes close as I trust my body to find its ancient rhythm, before body and mind were separated and indoctrinated. I know what to do.

I sleep with it, study it, move with it over and under and through, carry it as my symbol of sovereignty, my personal scepter, into the next day. Others continue across and under, twisting wide round and around again. Without words we slink together seamlessly– our thick slippery middles, our wild aimless roots, our careful tending to the mass, pulling fellow weavers out into process, separately and together, slowly finding our way through.