we all grieve.
some grieve privately
some grieve publicly
some grieve when and where they need to
some have short moments when they allow themselves to grieve
ome shove their grief down deep inside them and carry on only to find the grief erupting years/decades later in unsuspecting ways
When we don’t find ways
to name our grief
to face our grief
to deal with our grief
the next time something comes along that represents ‘loss’ to us
the building blocks that help us deal with grief in general
so our time of healing can be more difficult than it might have been
had we dealt
with each moment of loss
as it happened.
Loss of any kind
… a loved one … independence … employment … housing … financial security … family pet … limb … eyesight; … income … mobilit … freedom … hearing … intellect …
relationship … ability to communicate … chronically-ill partner/spouse/close friend, etc.
affects us whether we want to acknowledge that or not.
We seldom give ourselves time to do healthy grieving.
Being gentle with ourselves
whenever we encounter stress
and ‘loss’ of any kind is stressful.
For those who have not yet moved in, through, beyond (we never get ‘over’) a loss, I share my non-religious Healthy Grieving Ritual with much love.
It can be done at any time – soon after a loss … long after a loss … once … multiple times. I t involves the lighting of 4 candles, quiet reflection, inspiring quotations to ponder, and the option of quiet music in the background.
* As each candle of four candles is lit (hopefully in a darkened or semi-darkened room to get the full effect of light emanating from the candle), it might be helpful to have some quiet music in the bg or be in silence.
* Turn off the tv/loud music/cell phone and try not to begin this ritual when others might make demands on you.
* This is your time. As you speak/think each phrase, do it slowly, reflectively.
* There is no need to hurry.
* You might choose the same colour for each of the four candles or mix and match your candles because of the symbolism associated with specific colours:
blue – the colour of hope
white – the colour of wholeness
red – the colour of love
green – the colour of growth
purple – the colour of spirituality
your/your loved one’s favourite colour.
Directions are below. The words you say can be said aloud or silently in your heart. To begin … take a few slow, deep breaths inhaling a sense of peace
– and exhaling that which brings anxiety.
When your breathing has slowed down …
light the first candle then say … aloud or silently in your heart:
“I light this first candle to remember those persons who have been loved and are no longer are part of my life in any tangible way. I pause to remember him/her/them.” (Give yourself time to remember and name him/her/them.)
Then say or think: “I give thanks for a memory that connects him/her/them to me.” (Give yourself time to do this).
Conclude by saying: “May Eternal Love surround him/her/them.”
[Silent time for reflection and some gentle, deep breathing]
Light the second candle then say … aloud or silently in your heart
“I light this second candle to redeem the pain of loss.” (Give yourself time to think of whatever and however you are experiencing loss at this time)
Then say or think: “As I gather up the pain of the past, I offer it, asking that the gift of peace, of shalom, of wholeness be placed into my heart and open hands.” (Give yourself time to do this)
Conclude by saying: “May I be refreshed, restored and renewed.” [Silent time for reflection and some gentle, deep breathing.]
Light the third candle and say … aloud or silently in your heart
“I light this third candle to remember myself … I pause and remember the past days, weeks, months (years): the down times, the poignancy of memories, the grief, the sadness, the hurts, the anger, the pain of reflecting on my own mortality. If there is need for forgiveness – I offer it now, knowing that forgiveness is not forgetting, but it is letting go of whatever binds me to negative thought. I choose to forgive the other, forgive myself (forgive God if this is appropriate to your belief).” (Give yourself time to do this.)
Conclude by saying: “May I remember that dawn defeats darkness.”
Take some time to reflect (in your Journal, in your thoughts) on the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail” (first attributed to Confucius who wrote “Our greatest glory is not in never falling down, but in getting up every time we do”
… and on the words ascribed to Buddha: “You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”
… and the words of Claude Bristol: “It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. Once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.”
[Give yourself a silent time of reflection and some gentle, deep breathing]
Light the fourth candle and say … aloud or silently in your heart:
“I light this fourth candle to remember the gift of hope. I give thanks for that which is good in my life and name those people, situations, abilities, gifts, strengths/etc. for which I am grateful.” (Give yourself time to do this)
Take some time to reflect in your Journal, in your thoughts) on the words of Earl Riney: “The stars are constantly shining, but often we do not see them until the dark hours” and if religious words bring comfort … on the words of Pierre Teillard de Chardin: “If the only prayer you utter is ‘thank-you’, that would be sufficient” … and the words written on a wall at Dachau prison — “I believe in the sun even when it’s not shining; I believe in the stars even when I see them not; I believe in God even when I don’t see God.” (Give yourself time to do this.)
[Then give yourself a silent time of reflection and some gentle, deep breathing]
Bring this ritual to a conclusion by saying: “So be it. Amen. (“Amen” simply means “So be it.” There really is no religious connection unless the speaker has such an intention.)
With the saying of “So be it – Amen,” it is time to do something for yourself … a long, leisurely hot bath … a steaming hot cup of tea/hot chocolate … time spent writing in your Journal … a walk in the outdoors … some quiet time in the darkness looking at the lit candles … listening to some gentle music.
Whether you are aware of it or not, there are people who are “with you.”
If prayer is something that brings you comfort, you might want to say the following aloud or in the silence of your heart at times when the darkness that comes with grief – or the darkness associated with the season of the year (Hanukkah, Christmas, Winter Solstice) – is difficult to bear:
God/Creator/Holy One (whichever is most appropriate for you to use), I come to you at this time, with the pain inside me. As the nights grow longer, so has the darkness wrapped itself around my heart. In this season of our longest nights, I offer you the pain in my heart, the trauma of loss that I cannot put into words.
Compassionate One, death has changed my experience of this time of the year. Once it was a special day for me, but someone special has died. This Season seems to bring forth a grieving over what might have been. I ask you to be with me and help me through the difficult moments as the Christmas Season/ Hanukkah, Winter Solstice reminds me of all that used to be and cannot be anymore. The memories of what once was, the fears of what may be, disquiet my soul. All around, I hear the sounds of celebration. But all I experience is a sense of feeling blue. Please be near me at this time and even if I do not believe / no longer believe /or my belief is fragile, I offer this prayer “Help my unbelief … and bring healing to my soul.”
© june maffin
Permission is granted to share this Healthy Grieving Ritual with appropriate accreditation and link back to this site.