Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe, M.A., LCMHC, CAGCS Intuitive Grief Counselor, Author & Educator
Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe, M.A., LCMHC, CAGCS Intuitive Grief Counselor, Author & Educator

On Grieving…Rituals

As I come to this last in my series on grieving I feel a twinge of sadness. A loss in its own right I suppose. I have come to you over the last eight weeks with some of my thoughts on grief, love, healing. I have shared some of my personal journey through grief with you as you have so often privately shared yours with me. I am honored that so many of you welcomed me into your own grieving and shared your unique path with me. It has helped me on my path and reminded me that even though we may grieve alone, we are together.

In thinking about this last in the series I decided it seemed fitting to talk about ritual. What is ritual? For many of us ritual refers to a religious ceremony. For many others of us, it is simply a ceremony performed in a customary way and has no particular religious connection. It can be routines of everyday life, a practice of some kind. The meanings we place on ritual are vast and there is none more important than another. Ritual, regardless of its meaning to your life specifically can be incredibly important in grieving. While some of us find comfort in ritual still others have no need for it. Rituals can be as personal and unique as our grieving is for each one of us.

Growing up as I did, when someone died there was a wake, funeral mass, graveside service, and finally a gathering with loved ones sharing stories with food and drink. Over the years, ritual for me has changed and although I like a ritual, I have had to create my own for the most significant losses I have suffered. No wakes, no funerals, no gathering of loved ones to share stories or food and drink. Instead, I have had no ritual or at times a solitary one of my own creation. I suppose there are many reasons for this, but not participating in a ritual, or ceremony leaves me feeling lost a little and curious why so many important losses in my life were never marked with a ritual, something so important for me. I suppose the wishes of the dying are not those of my own, but still, I find it interesting. Fodder for another piece of writing perhaps. I suppose it is up to me to create a ritual that will aid in my healing in this most recent loss.

So many of you spoke of the lack of ceremony, ritual in the last year due to the pandemic restrictions on gathering. How painful to endure not only the loss of loved ones but the loss of the usual rituals surrounding death. Loss upon loss. Some of us wander lost without the anchor of ritual. Without the connection to others who share in our pain and offer a safe space to stumble around in our grief. And I wonder if this year in particular offers an opportunity to find and create new rituals. I’m not suggesting the old rituals should be forgotten, but perhaps new ways to honor those we love and miss. Ways that might help to ease the suffering of the loss as well as the temporary loss of the traditional ritual. What if we created rituals around all of the ways we grieve. Some tangible way that we acknowledges, and honors the loss. The loss of love, relationship, job, dream, health, whatever the loss maybe a ritual, a ceremony of sorts to mark its significance. Like the song says, “I took myself to dinner one last time, had a bottle of wine and a couple of laughs.” Maybe it can be as simple as that when our relationships end. Or maybe we let go of a career by creating a vision for the future work-a drawing, painting, or written word that allows for the transition with hope and excitement. Not to pretend the loss isn’t with us, but to honor its place in us as we find a way to put one foot in front of the other. There are so many possibilities and surely one that fits you.

Ritual offers hope I think. Maybe in some way, I have created my own ritual for my grieving in writing this blog every week. I guess that’s why as I come toward the end of this last blog I am tearful. Another loss of sorts. My connection to all of you who have found some meaning in my words and shared your stories with me. I hope you don’t mind if I’d like to keep these connections as I transition to other topics. I will continue to write every week on whatever life presents and hope that my words will continue to be meaningful to some of you. My continued ritual of hope I suppose. Hope. I can’t think of a better way to end this series on grieving than with hope.

Thank you for sharing this journey on grieving with me. I trust in your continued healing and that maybe you will even try creating a ritual of your own to help you through. Please stay with me here as I transition into other areas of life worth exploring which no doubt will touch on grief from time to time–that’s life for you…..’til next week hold on to hope wherever you find it. Take good care….

Now, there are many who would say that after eight weeks grieving should be done, but I think we have come to know that nothing could be further from the truth. Our grieving will continue