Grief & Loss
The Healing Process: Rituals and Ceremonies
Grieving is our own personal process of dealing with and
healing our emotions from the loss in our lives of the person who has
separated from us left us through death, divorce or abandonment. Rituals
like funerals, memorial services, and divorce parties play a significant
role in getting past the initial shock and disbelief of the loss with the
support of friends, family and others who are significant in our lives.
Your cultural background and beliefs can affect how you
understand and approach the grief process. Some cultures anticipate a
"time to grieve" and have developed rituals to help people
through the grieving process. Support from others can be a reminder that
grief is a universal experience and that you are not alone. After a
significant loss, some cultures have mourning rituals to mark the passage
of time and help individuals reconnect with their ordinary lives.
A mourning ritual can occur during a meaningful time, like an
anniversary, wake, or holiday, or at a distinct location, like a church,
synagogue, or home. Catholic's may celebrate a anniversary Mass, the
Jewish faith recite the Kaddish, and Hispanics honor the dead in El Dia de
Many ceremonies have spontaneously grown up around the
Vietnam War Memorial, and a special mourning project, the AIDS quilt,
traveled throughout the nation to enable mourners to participate in this
expression of grief. Grief rituals and ceremonies acknowledge the pain of
loss while also offering social support and a reaffirmation of life.
You may not be conscious of how your own cultural background
affects your grief process. Talking with family, friends or clergy is one
way to strengthen your awareness of possible cultural influences in your
life. Friends and family may be able to help you generate ideas to create
your own rituals. Some have found solace in creating their own
unconventional ceremonies, such as a funeral or ceremony with personal
friends in a private setting.