There’s no doubt that rituals are an important part of our lives. We engage in so many of them—birthday parties, Fourth of July barbeques, family vacations, holiday dinners, and so on.

Funerals, too, are important rituals. They provide guidance and direction that enables us to come together to honor the life of our loved one with those who are sharing in our loss. In her book “Surviving Grief,” Catherine M. Sanders writes, “During chaotic times of change and transition, these rituals (funerals) provided important direction and spiritual strength.”

Creating your own ritual need not be difficult. First, decide what you would like to remember or celebrate. For some people it is the anniversary of a loved one’s passing, or their birthday. It could also be a wedding anniversary. Then decide on how often you will hold this ritual.  Will it be for you alone or will you include others? Also consider where you will hold the ritual.

Here are a few examples of some rituals that people created that may help you consider a ritual that best suits you.

  • Ellen was living on the east coast when her mother passed away in California at the age of 50. Each year, Ellen visits her dad in California on the week of the anniversary of her mother’s passing, and together they share memories and visit the memorial site.
  • Jessica, Monica, Laura and Allie were close college friends, all living together. When Laura was tragically killed in an auto accident, the other three were devastated. Each year on the anniversary of Laura’s death, the three of them get together at a hotel or on a cruise to reminisce and reflect on the wonderful memories of their college days.
  • David wanted to be alone on his deceased son’s birthday. So, he rented a small mountain cabin and spent the time in quiet reflection, absorbing the beauty and talking to his son.

Take some time to think about what kind of ritual might help you to heal. Then commit to it and put it on your calendar.

(Excerpts taken from the book “I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye” by Brook Noel and Pamela D. Blair, PhD)