The Ritual of Rememberance

Did you know that engaging in rituals of remembrance can be therapeutic? Behavioral rituals can help further our healing by allowing us to express grief through our actions. Of course, there are many cultural rituals and religious customs we perform during the mourning period just after a death. We remember our loved ones with visitations, wakes, funerals, memorials, burials, and special time with family. We can also honor our loved ones with personal rituals we may choose to engage in during special times throughout the year, such as holidays like Memorial Day. However, remembrance often happens in our daily lives, as well as on special occasions and anniversaries.

While it might seem like engaging in these intentional acts of grief would make us feel sad, many people have found that the opposite is true.

Grief rituals…

  • Give a sense of control over our grief.
  • Reduce distress leading up to an anniversary or important date.
  • Provide an emotional outlet and catharsis.
  • Lead to more positive emotions about the deceased and memories of the deceased.

You can try different types of remembrance activities to see what works best for you. Some rituals can be done in private, while others are built around community. Try engaging in some of the activities below to see which provides the most emotional benefit for you and your family.

Private or family grief rituals:

  • Visit your loved one’s grave site.
  • Listen to their favorite song.
  • Visit their favorite restaurant.
  • Light a candle in memory of your loved one.
  • Write your feelings in a journal.

Public grief rituals:

While to many, the Memorial Day holiday marks the beginning of summer, sunshine, and swimming pool days, it is also a time to honor and celebrate the lives of those who died serving our country.

This day of national remembrance is a good reminder of the importance of ritual in our grief. On Memorial Day, these rituals might include participating in or attending a parade in honor of fallen soldiers or visiting and decorating the grave of a loved one.  As you see or participate in Memorial Day celebrations or tributes to those we have lost, take a moment to stop and think of your loved one. This can be a small, yet meaningful act of remembrance – a step of healing in your grief journey.