Michelle Suzanne Scott

Registered Social Services Worker




Michelle Suzanne Scott

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Performing “rituals” may have gotten a bad rap.

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The word “ritual” may conjure up visions of  nefarious actions designed to incite negativity.  Lighting birthday candles is a type of ritual that most of us enjoy.  I think there is a sacred place for rituals and ceremonies in death and dying.  It is a way to remember and celebrate our lives and honour our deaths.

Public Mourning & Private Mourning

Mourning is an expression of our grief.  Consider the following:  rituals are a way to symbolically express our feelings of grief and feel connected to someone we have loved who has died. A funeral service and memorials are a way of publicly mourning.

Rituals also allow us to privately reflect, remember, and acknowledge in a ceremonial way. This can be done once or repeatedly and anyone can create their own rituals and remembrances.  A ritual will have a beginning and an end, which benefits our grief processing therapeutically and allows us to channel feelings of grief.

Express your feelings through the action of a Ritual.

Acknowledge the Continuing Bond to your loved one by trying one or some of these ideas:

  • Have a physical space on a table or space on a wall or shelf in memory of your loved one during the holidays, or all the time.
  • Feel a connection to your loved one by doing an activity they enjoyed.
  • Create a memory scrapbook and fill it with pictures, letters, postcards and other significant memorabilia.
  • Write a letter to the person who has died. Put your letter in a scrapbook or burn the letter and visualize the rising smoke carrying your message to them.
  • Light a candle or burn incense in honour of your loved one.
  • Plant and dedicate a garden, shrub, or tree to your special person.
  • Make a donation gift or dedicate time to a charity in your loved one’s name. Although they are not physically here to carry out this work, you may do this in their name and in their honour.
  • Spend time watching your loved one’s favourite movies or listening to their favourite music.
  • Carry or wear something special that reminds you of your loved one.
  • Create a work of art in their memory (no expertise necessary!)
  • Read or say aloud an inspirational verse, poem, or prayer.
  • Be in nature, symbolically place stones in a stream or lake or create a stone statue. Let being outdoors bring your awareness of the life around you.

Of Note: Be sure to have a beginning and an end to the ritual to allow yourself to transition back into a different frame of mind (of your daily grind perhaps). Do what feels comfortable for you and create what works.

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