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How Rituals Help Mourners Find Meaning

Rituals offer us with activities to do for the aim of constructing meaning (Neimeyer).

Dr. Kenneth Doka describes ritual as imbuing the everyday with remarkable significance. Ritual establishes a symbolic link to the deceased. On Thanksgiving, for instance, a lady prepares her late mother's cranberry relish recipe. Even though just a few members of the family appreciate this meal, she continues to cook it because she feels linked to her mother when preparing it and that her mother is thus there at the holiday. Dr. Kenneth Doka has identified four purposes of ritual that may be useful in various circumstances:

Rituals of Continuity - This form of ritual signifies that the individual is still a part of my life and that there is an ongoing connection. The ceremony of Thanksgiving mentioned above is an illustration of this.

Rituals of Transition - This signifies that a shift in the mourning reaction has occurred. Parents who have lost a child, for instance, signal a change in their sorrow by emptying out the deceased kid's room after an appropriate amount of time.

Rituals of Affirmation - This involves writing a letter or poetry to the departed praising them for their care, love, assistance, and support. This is very important for folks who have never shown gratitude.

Rituals of Intensification - This sort of ritual strengthens the bond between group members and their shared identity. AIDSQuilt, the Vietnam War Memorial, and the Oklahoma City Memorial Park are examples.

The rituals must correspond to the narrative. They must be designed in advance and handled extensively after completion.

Certain dates are very distressing and anxiety-inducing for bereaved individuals. These include birthdays, anniversaries, festivals, religious festivities, Valentine's Day, the anniversary of the decedent's passing, and other unique family marks.

In order to cognitively and symbolically recognize the day, it is necessary to arrange a ritual of recall in advance.

Using any of the aforementioned rituals can help commemorate the connection and life that was shared in a personal manner. Instead of avoiding the day, it is preferable to engage and manage it through routine.

Following is an inventory of rituals.

Commemorative Rituals

When a ritual has value for both the deceased and the surviving, it is effective and meaningful.

The following are only recommendations that may be tweaked and improved to match the nature of the connection.

Prepare the loved one's favorite dish and eat it as he or she would have.

Prepare a favorite dessert and serve it to family and friends.

View a film(s) that your loved one enjoyed.

In memory of your loved one, plant flowers, a tree, or a blooming shrub.

On a birthday, anniversary, or holiday, offer a toast to your loved one.

Light a candle and reflect about how he or she was a source of solace or a guiding light for you.

Read book(s) or article(s) on a topic(s) of interest to him/her.

Play music that was cherished by your loved one and determine if you can appreciate it today.

Attend a concert or performance that both of you would like.

Focus on shared experiences and memories as you go through photo albums.

Wear a piece of jewelry that the deceased cherished.

Use the fragrance or perfume that he or she loved on you.

Wear an article of clothes that he or she has given you.

Acquire for yourself something that he or she would like you to have.

Enjoy lunch or supper at a favorite cafe/restaurant.

Pay a visit to the gravesite and bring a balloon or symbolic object to leave behind.

Record your favorite tales in a journal.

Travel to a location he or she like or has long wished to see.

Examine the ways in which he or she has enhanced your life.

Focus on the gift he or she gave you.

On the anniversary, purchase flowers. Bring to a church or home event as an ornament. Have individuals take a flower as they depart.

On their anniversary, send flowers to a close relative.

Peruse your loved one's favorite poem(s) or book.

View home footage in order to recall.

Volunteer for a cause in remembrance of your deceased loved one.

Become an activist in the cause of death problem by participating in a walk-a-thon, phone-a-thon, etc.

Take a leisurely stroll while reminiscing about past experiences you've shared.


Mimi Rothschild

Mimi Rothschild is the Founder and CEO of the Global Grief Institute which provides Certification training programs forGrief Coach, Trauma Coach, End of Life Coach, and Children's Grief Coach. She is a survivor who has buried 3 of her children and her husband of 33 years. She is available for speaking engagements and comments to the press on any issue surrounding thriving after catastrophic loss. MEDIA INQUIRIES:

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