The lights were low, and Native American flute music played softly. A counselor held the woman’s hand, whispering words of comfort as she began to surface from a guided meditation. Then the doctor showed the woman a covered silver bowl that held the tiny remains of her six-week pregnancy. She curled her fingers around his, and her face, now damp with tears, softened as he began their ceremony of letting go.
“We ask your blessing, in the name of love,” Curtis Boyd, M D, began softly. Before becoming a doctor, Boyd was a foot-washing Baptist minister in rural East Texas. He left the fold but took with him an abiding faith in the power of ceremony to heal, honor, and comfort.
“Women because of what they are bombarded with in the media and by anti-abortion groups get the message that what they are doing is wrong and that they are bad people,” Boyd says, “A ceremony says the woman is a good and caring person who made the best decision she could under difficult circumstances. It also gives her a way to honor the fetus to be aware of her grief and to express her loss.”
In the nearly eight years I worked as a counselor and medical assistant at Boyd’s clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico, I witnessed many ceremonies. Some were for couples whose fetuses had died or had medical anomalies. Others were for women who, for whatever reason, knew that it was not the nighttime to bring a child into their world and sought a way to make peace with that decision.
Each blessing ritual was individually designed. One Buddhist couple set up an altar, complete with incense, candles, and rice cakes. Native American women sometimes brought corn meal for sprinkling during their blessings. Boyd has since retired from performing surgery, but he and his wife and partner, psychologist Glenna Halvorson-Boyd, still guide the work done at her Albuquerque and Dallas clinics. All patients have an opportunity to perform their own rituals or to create new ceremonies with the help of counselors.
This particular afternoon, in the soft light of the surgery room, Boyd concluded the ceremony with a prayer: “We ask that you honor this woman’s courage and bless her and her family as they move forward in their lives.”
New Age, March/April, 1998, p. 17