Dia de los Muertos is beginning soon, and it brings with it a reminder to celebrate and remember our loved ones who have passed.
Personal grief rituals are those loving activities that help us remember our loved ones, and give us a sense of connectedness, healing and peace. Creating and practicing personal grief rituals can also help us release painful situations and unpleasant memories, freeing us to make our memories a positive influence in our lives.
What follows are a few examples of personal grief rituals. The ideas are as unique and as varied as the people who invented them. Think of ways that you can adapt them and make them your own.
You are limited only by your imagination.
- If you’re a writer, write—it could be an article, an anecdote, a story, a poem, a song, a letter an obituary or a eulogy. You don’t have to write for someone else. Keep a private journal and write about your feelings as you journey through your grief.
- Buy a very special candle, decorate it and light it in honor of your loved one.
- Purchase a book – perhaps a children’s book – on coping with the loss of a loved one, and donate it to your local library or school. Place a label inside the front cover inscribed “In memory of [your loved one’s name].”
- Plant a tree, bush, shrub, garden or flower bed as a permanent growing memorial to your beloved. Mark the site with a memorial plaque, marker, bench or statue.
- Memorialize your beloved in cyberspace by lighting a virtual candle at Gratefulness.org/Light-A-Candle.
- Write a special note, letter, poem, wish or prayer to your beloved. Go outside, attach the paper to a balloon and let it go – or place it in a vessel and burn it, and watch the smoke rise heavenward.
- If you are harboring bad feelings or regrets, gather symbols to represent those hurtful or painful situations, events, or feelings from your past. Place them in a container and hold a private burial or burning ceremony, saying goodbye and releasing them as you do so.
- Ask relatives, friends, co-workers and neighbors to gather their contributions, and put together a scrapbook or box of memories containing mementos, letters and photographs of your loved one.
- Celebrate the life of your loved one by continuing favorite traditions or eating favorite foods.
- Select a Valentine card that you wish your beloved would have picked for you, and mail it to yourself.
- Give yourself a gift from your loved one that you always wished he or she would have given you, and think of your beloved whenever you see it or wear it.
*Please seek the advice of a medical professional for any problematic symptoms.