Regardless of who we are, or our individual life experiences, we all grieve, albeit in different ways. In fact, there are not many life paths that are more individual and personal than the path of grief. There are, however, some fairly common grieving rituals that are employed by people to help them achieve a healthy grieving process. Some are done for a short period of time, while others continue throughout the balance of the life of the person who is grieving. Let’s take a look at a few of the most common grieving rituals.
Tactics for Healthy Grieving
While there are many grieving rituals that are used to help in the healing process, one of the most common types of rituals related to grieving is one in which the person who is grieving creates a memorial.
A memorial can be in the form of something tangible, such as planting flowers or a tree, in honor of a loved one. Sometimes, the tangible memorial takes on a more personal feel, such as creating a scrapbook of memories that might include pictures, journal entries, old concert tickets, and other items that remind the scrapbook creator of the memories shared with the deceased.
A memorial can also be a planned event, such as when family and friends gather on the anniversary of a loved one’s passing to remember him or her. Often, these annual celebrations of life are held at a favorite restaurant, or other favorite location such as a beach or stadium, where the loved one enjoyed spending time. During these memorial events, attendees take turns reminiscing about the decedent and reflecting on shared experiences.
Perhaps the most common grieving ritual of them all is graveside visitation. This is considered a fairly sacred ritual because of the location, of course. It is also the most deeply personal grieving ritual because the mourner is often alone and has an opportunity to openly express his or her grief directly to the person who was lost.
The grieving ritual associated with graveside visitation is something that is often planned for each anniversary of the decedent’s death. But initially, those who are grieving will visit the graveside monthly, or even weekly. There is no measure of frequency that is considered normal, as each person’s sense of loss and depth of grief is so intimately personal.
Lighting a Candle
The lighting of a candle is considered to be a very simple and symbolic grieving ritual. When we light a candle in memory of our loved one, it is a simple ritual intended to represent the person’s memory on special occasions, such as the anniversary of the person’s death, their birthday, or a special holiday, such as Christmas. Often, a special candle will be purchased that is only lit on the marked occasions.
Keep a Journal
Meant as a way to express emotions and share life events with those who have passed, the ritual of maintaining a journal is a way to keep a dialogue going with those who we still love, but whom we have lost. It allows them to remain a part of our lives because we continue to share with them through the written word. The ritual of regularly adding to the journal helps the mourner to heal in a way that is perhaps unique and unlike some other grieving rituals.
Donate to Charity
Another common grieving ritual is the continued gift of sharing. People will often donate money to a favorite charity or cause that was close to the deceased on each anniversary of his or her death. Sometimes a scholarship at a local school is set up to be dispersed annually as well. This is a grieving ritual that not only honors the loved one, but helps others as well.
Grief is an unfortunately universal experience. But, the journey through grief and loss is so distinctly personal that the length of time we grieve differs greatly from person to person. So, too, do the grieving rituals we employ to help us heal and allow us to remain close to the memory of those we lose.
See Stages of Grief
phtoo by: tednsteph