Grief Rituals, Creating Them Will Help You Heal
For all of you who listened to my teleseminar last week, you know we discussed rituals and why they are important in the healing process. As a follow-up to that, I want to share the article below which gives some great examples of rituals and how they might apply to you.
Each society has its own rituals. These rituals connect us with support groups. Personal rituals also help you to heal. In fact, they may be more meaningful because you created them. What is a ritual? The dictionary defines it as “an established or prescribed procedure for a religious or other rite.” Another definition is “any practice or pattern of behavior repeated in a prescribed manner reminiscent of ritual.”
I am not a ritual kind of person. After four loved ones died in 2007, however, I created a few simple rituals to honor them. Each morning, when I awaken, I make a pledge to my daughter. This pledge, “I will not fail you Helen,” is for her children — the grandchildren I am raising. When I say the pledge tears come to my eyes.
We need rituals in order to heal. Rev. William Purdy, DD, Vice President or Provider Relations Continuum Hospice Care in New York City, makes this point in his article, “Giving Grief Ritual.” Despite the tragedy of September 11th, “for a significant number of people whose loved ones died unexpected deaths, ritual grieving remains unexplored,” he writes.
In a Santa Fe Care website article, “Using Rituals to Heal Grief,” rituals are described as symbolic and dynamic. According to the article, rituals strengthen human bonds, provide a support system, honor the sacred, encourage expression, and include artistic expression. In fact, some of the world’s greatest artworks, such as the Taj Mahal, have come from grief.
“Expressing Grief Through Your Own Rituals,” an article on the Dummies website, says rituals have established steps. You only need three things — place, time, activities — to create a ritual. Some mourners use shrines for their rituals. According to the article, a mourner should “adopt an attitude of loving care and great awareness” when using the ritual.
At first, my morning pledge was an unconscious response to grief. Now the pledge is a conscious one and just as meaningful. Other personal rituals include the use of linking objects. At Christmas time I get out my daughter’s ornaments and put them on the tree. Fixing my loved ones’ favorite foods has also become a ritual. Your rituals may be similar to mine.
Rituals help us recover from grief and, if you do not have any yet, think about creating them. A shrine, for example, may be as simple as your loved one’s photo and a single rose. Using your deceased father’s tools or your deceased mother’s dishes can also be rituals. When you don’t need the ritual any more, you may discard it without feeling guilty.
Your loved one is part of you and always will be.