For many, music can be a form of therapy and for Jordyn Awatea it was songwriting that helped her heal from the loss of her baby.
This week Awatea, of Tainui and Mulifanua Lalovi (Samoa) released her first waiata, Te Ao Mārama, named after her pēpi lost to miscarriage last year.
“I definitely needed process. If you lose someone you engage in tikanga, like a tangihanga, and I think, with miscarriage, it’s one of those things that are so common and then there’s no practice attached to it necessarily, not one that I was aware of," Awatea says.
“So the songwriting process for me became a tikanga, a way kia puta ai te pōuri, to get the sadness out, the grief out.”
Awatea says there’s a different language that music brings to grief.
A way to process grief
“So while I wrote it specifically about my miscarriage experience I think it speaks to pain in general, it speaks to grief in general, offers a way to process, offers a way to carry something out that maybe your words can’t give.”
According to the Ministry of Health miscarriage is fairly common for one or two out of every 10 pregnant women.
“I think it’s quite isolating. I think there are a lot of wāhine who experience something and they feel like it’s just them in that space. I think that conversations around the whare tangata and the womb are very sacred spaces and so, when it’s not functioning the way that you think that it’s supposed to function, that’s a really hard thing to give words to. That’s a really hard reality to face.”
Awatea says receiving therapy has also been a part of her healing process.
“I think healing in every aspect, I think in our healing capacity, our wairua physical healing – that is so important," she says.
Tikanga to be found
“I just went to the doctors and asked for a referral and that was just helpful to give some words to what I was experiencing, to help me feel not so in my head about it.”
Awatea says that by sharing her own experience in the waiata, she hopes to help other wāhine who have miscarried.
“Firstly, that they’re not alone, that it’s definitely a shared experience, that there is process and tikanga to be found, so find it - whatever you’ve got to do to get the emotion out, to get the grief out, to process the pōuri (sadness) so that it doesn’t grow bitter inside.”
Awatea works as a te reo teacher and plans to continue writing music.
“I’ve loved the process of writing a song and then seeing it through professionally, getting it recorded, that whole process.”
Awatea’s new journey of songwriting also means her pēpi “gets to live a life different from how I had intended,” she says.
Te Ao Marama is available on Spotify.
If you or someone you know needs support with miscarriage, please reach out online to the Sands New Zealand supporting bereaved parents and whānau throughout Aotearoa. You can also contact, Miscarriage Support on (0508) 72 63 72 and Ngā Maia Māori Midwives Aotearoa.