Rituals and memorials, whether used by an individual or by an entire community of people, can be valuable tools in response to grief. They can transform grief into healing by celebrating the life of the person who has died.
There are many possibilities and creative ways to honor loved ones through rituals and memorials. They can be customized to reflect the person being remembered or the person who is remembering the loved one.
Ideas for remembering a deceased loved one might include:
- Creating a memorial fund for donation to a project or cause that was supported by the deceased.
- Creating a scrapbook or memory book.
- Identifying the seat at the dining table, which was usually used by the deceased, as a seat of honor and either leaving it empty or inviting guests to be seated at the “special place” at the table.
- Making a quilt or a memory teddy bear out of the person’s clothing.
- Wearing an article of clothing or jewelry that belonged to the deceased.
- Continuing to celebrate the birthday of the deceased by gathering family/friends for a favorite meal.
The number of ways to honor and remember loved ones can be as varied and unique as the people being remembered.
The majority of familiar grief rituals originated as family, religious or cultural traditions. These social traditions allow extended family, friends or even an entire community to mourn the death along with the primary grievers. The rituals can be connected to very specific activities such as how the body is cared for after death; cremation versus embalming versus burial without embalming; procedures followed at the funeral/memorial service, including the demonstration — or lack thereof — of emotion; the way specific family members are required to dress after the death of certain relatives; and the list goes on.
Regardless of how a life is celebrated or memorialized, memorials and rituals provide a valuable and functional component for the healing journey. Perhaps one of the most noteworthy purposes of memorials and rituals is to help prepare the griever to ultimately move forward and create a new reality — a new “normal.”
By finding a meaningful way to honor someone through memorials and rituals, mourners can incorporate the memories of their loved ones into their newly created realities, which will encourage the moving forward in peace.
For additional grief support, Pathways of Hope℠ services are available to the friends and family of all Ohio’s Hospice patients, as well as anyone in the communities Ohio’s Hospice serves. For more information, please visit: https://www.ohioshospice.org/pathwaysofhope/