Rituals are actions that symbolically connect us to something that is meaningful. They can be comforting and can help us express feelings, bring about a sense of closure, or keep an important part of the past alive.
Rituals mark time as well as create time. They give us structure in our social world by designating a beginning or an end: Baptisms, Christenings, Bat Mitzvahs, Graduations, Engagement, Marriage, Divorce, Birthdays, First Day of School, Proms, Retirement party, and of course, funerals and memorials.
I create Rituals around my losses. As we come to this age, loss and transitions are more prevalent. We transition from a young mother, wife, career builder to grandmother, single, retired. These are some of our losses. We also experience the loss by death of friends, family, and those whose presence we enjoyed – authors, celebrities, or global leaders.
When we create a Ritual around loss, we honor both ourselves and those who are remembered.
The phases of Rituals in Grief are:
- Separation from what was – “My life is now without my spouse, sister, child, friend.”
- Transition from what was to what is and will be – Taking one step at a time as we navigate the void.
- Adjusting to the ‘new’ normal – Living alone, not seeing our beloved, new label (widow, orphan, etc.).
We need Rituals because loss can make us feel that our lives are out of control, filled with deep grief and chaos, and out of balance. Rituals can restore that sense of control.
For example, if we wake up and create a ritual of finding one memory of our loved one, every day, we honor them and ourselves, and it can be the same memory every day! I often think of my sister and how she loved to get in a warm pool backwards down the ladder. Upon entering the water, she would say ‘Ahhhh’ with her eyes closed. She was so happy and that brings a smile to my heart.
- Think about (or write down): What is the meaning of your ritual? To bring you comfort; to create something consistent in your chaos; to relieve your stress…
- Decide when the ritual will take place: Once a day when you wake up or go to sleep; once a year on the anniversary of the event; or anytime.
- Decide where the ritual will take place: In their favorite chair, by the beach, at a restaurant, in your place of worship, anywhere.
- Decide who should participate: Sometimes, the ritual needs to involve another person or group such close family. Other times, it can seem more meaningful to do it alone.
- Create the actual Ritual: Drinking coffee from their mug; going to a special setting, or simply any space that you define as sacred. The Ritual can take seconds, hours, or whatever meets your needs and desires.
Each of your Chakras, the subtle energy centers that engage within your emotional, spiritual, physical, and nervous bodies, holds a key to your Rituals. Wear something, eat something, do something that connects you to your loved one.
The first Chakra, located in your lower extremities, perineum, coccyx, is where we find support, grounding, a sense of stability and trust. The ritual of taking a conscious walk, feeling your body grounded, or massaging your feet can bring grounding and trust.
The second Chakra, located in between your pubic bone and navel, offers the flow and connection to your beloved by consciously moving your body through dance, yoga, walking or whatever gives your body some flow.
This third Chakra, centered between your navel and lowest rib, honors yourself and is the inspiration to commit to Rituals. Here you will find the fire of your motivation to create and sustain your Rituals.
The fourth Chakra, located in the center of your chest at your actual heart honors the love that never ends. Photos, memories, and knowing that in death the relationship does not end, it only changes.
At your throat is your communication with your creative energy. Rituals are creative communications between you and your beloved. This may include writing them a letter, creating fine art, cooking their favorite dish, or whatever expresses your connection.
Just between and above your brows is your sixth Chakra. Rituals provide insight into the flow of your grief. As your two eyes look out, your third eye looks inward to honor your insight, intuition, knowledge and brilliance. Your Rituals opportunities are as vast as your imagination.
Just above the crown of your head hovers the seventh Chakra. Rituals acknowledge the divine aspect of your connections through mediation, worship, dreams, and unbounded thoughts.
Not only does a grief ritual help you heal as you regain steady emotions, it gives you and other friends and family an opportunity to remember and reflect on your loved one’s life. Having a regular ritual to remember them and honor their life is essential in a healthy grieving process.
We have daily Rituals that provide a sense of comfort and continuity. When I awake, my first Ritual is to think of three things I am grateful for. Then I rub my hands and touch the earth to start my day literally grounded.
Your Rituals might include how you make your coffee, taking a walk first thing, or reading the news (watch out that this doesn’t get you stressed!)
My skin care Ritual, which I do first and last thing in the day, includes looking in the mirror and saying “Thank You” and then using facial acupressure to apply with love, care, and awareness, my facial serum (GYG Organic Facial Serum).
Every morning I splash cold water on my face seven times – it feels great. I bless my food as a Ritual. I try to make most of my day as sacred as possible by creating a Ritual around the mundane. I give my small pleasures and necessary actions some meaning.
Here are the Rituals of some great artists and thinkers:
- The rising-at-dawn came from Ernest Hemingway, who was up at around 5.30am, even if he’d been drinking the night before.
- The strong coffee was borrowed from Beethoven, who personally counted out the 60 beans his morning cup required.
- Benjamin Franklin swore by “air baths,” which was his term for sitting around naked in the morning, whatever the weather.
- And the midday cocktail was a favorite of VS Pritchett (among many others).
Create a Ritual that you commit to once a day or once a year or anytime that brings an inner smile to your being. Rituals offer comfort, creativity, inspiration, and presence.
What you do with awareness becomes living fully in the present. Isn’t that where we all strive to exist?
I invite you join my tribe at https://www.growingyoungergracefully.com and enter drawing for you to win One-ounce bottle of GYG Organic Facial Serum and get a free Facial Acupressure video.
What Rituals have you created in your life? Do you make something special out of mundane things? Do you have a grief ritual for friends and loved ones? Please share the practices you have embraced!