Self-created rituals for processing grief
Grief is a very natural part of life, but a very painful one. Every loss is unique, and it can be hard to know how to process your feelings and move forward in a healthy way. Whether your loss is the death of a loved one, end of a relationship, a big move, or change in financial situation, it is normal to feel overwhelmed, saddened, and angry. One way to working through feelings of grief is to design a ceremony or ritual that helps to express your feelings and create meaning from what has happened.
What is a ritual?
Rituals are actions that have symbolism and meaning attached to them. They may appear quite simple from the outside but hold deep personal meaning and reflect the emotion we feel inside. We may engage in ritual as we seek clarity, peace, growth, or stability during a time of pain or upheaval.
Rituals are often associated with specific cultures, religions, or spiritual practices. However, self-designed rituals and ceremonies are specific to your own beliefs and values. The intent is to engage in an action that has meaning for you and is beneficial to your personal grieving journey.
Examples of Self-created Ceremony
For the Loss of a Loved One
– Lighting a candle at certain times of the day, week, or month to remind you of them
– Creating a memory scrapbook filled with photos, letters, notes, and other significant memorabilia
– Recognizing birthdays and anniversaries in a way that works for you (such as going out for dinner with family, making a favourite meal, visiting a special place, etc.)
– Listening to music that has special meaning and reminds you of a certain time period with your loved one
Other losses such as a job, relationship, living situation, etc.
– Write a list of all the things you want to release or let go of in relation to your loss. Identify ways you want to release them such as donating certain items or giving away tickets to an event you no longer care to attend.
– Refresh your home. Remove items that remind you of the loss. Spend time re-creating the space to reflect who you are now and what you want in life. This may include designing a yoga space or home gym, hanging new pictures, etc.
– Write a good-bye letter. You can keep it to refer to later, or perhaps rip it up or safely burn it.
Organize a time and place to engage in your chosen ritual. Clearly marking the beginning and end will give you a specific timeframe for feeling and expressing your emotions. It will also help to transition into a different mindset at the end and bring your awareness back to the day ahead.
Before starting your ceremony, take a few deep breaths. Give yourself permission to cry, yell, or express your grief in any other way you need. At the end, reflect on the
experience and what it meant to you. You may wish to adjust elements your ceremony as your grief shifts over time by changing aspects of it or inviting others to join you.
Navigating the grieving process can be difficult. Having a counsellor to talk to can be helpful and any of our staff would welcome the opportunity to help you with this. Please reach out to schedule a free 15-minute consultation if you are experiencing grief of any kind or would like more information on self-created ceremonies.
Written by Cat Zydyk
Good Therapy (2011, June 27). Creating rituals to move through grief. https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/creating-rituals-to-move-through-grief/