Be Ceremonial

Johanna’s Fairy Door

Stephen and Kim drew inspiration from Be Ceremonial’s stillbirth ceremony to create a series of rituals to acknowledge the one year anniversary since losing their daughter Johanna.

Johanna’s fairy door is a tiny wooden door on a tree in the park near our home.

It’s hand painted with butterflies and flowers, and a single date. It’s where we can come to remember and reflect, a place we created as part of our ceremony we designed to mark the one year anniversary of the loss of our baby Johanna.

As the anniversary of our loss approached, we both knew we wanted a way to express our grief, and do more than survive the day. But we had no idea where to begin, or even whether it was normal to want to acknowledge this moment. 

Be Ceremonial helped us recognize the importance of what we were feeling, and they gave us a place to start as we set out to create a ceremony to honour our baby and our journey. The Stillbirth Ceremony gave us lots of options to choose from without ever feeling overwhelming. We created the ceremony designed for partners, which was helpful as we didn’t want it to be for a big group. We then chose the rituals that felt most meaningful to the two of us, including opening with the element of Earth, the connection spot ritual, the memorial marker ritual, and closing with the element of Fire.

We’d always wanted to make a fairy door with our children, so it felt like the right way to honour Johanna. We made and decorated the door, and then on the day of her anniversary, we designated our special place. We buried some of her ashes there, while taking the time to remember and speak to what we were each experiencing. With these rituals, we gave our grief somewhere to land and simply be. It was especially helpful that Be Ceremonial offered us a guide that didn’t need to be followed exactly; we were invited to make it our own.

Creating and performing this ceremony helped us bring intentionality to our grieving, and made us feel less alone during a difficult time. It made us feel like others had experienced losses like ours, and that ceremonies like these were a needed and accepted way forward.

The fairy door brings smiles to the children who find it, but it also gives us a small doorway into a sense of peace and acceptance after the loss of our daughter.

It’s a place to reconnect with our Johanna whenever we want to.

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About Stephen and Kim Byrne

Stephen and Kim live and work in Burnaby, BC. Kim is on the organizing committee for Butterfly Run Vancouver, which is where she learned about Be Ceremonial. You can read more about their journey here.