The funeral process provides closure and allows friends and loved ones to say a final goodbye. In a way, we can look at funerals as a ritual. A ritual is a repeated pattern of behavior performed at specified times. Rituals have historically been cultural and religious, much like traditions, however there has been a large increase in personal rituals over the years. For example, Dia De Los Muertos or simply visiting a grave of a deceased loved one are both rituals.
The funeral service industry has long relied on traditions such as these, that often stemmed from, or were created within the realms of religion. A funeral ritual gives outward expression to our inner grief, helping us to mourn a loss and create forward movement in our grief.
Let’s look at funeralOne’s examples of why funeral rituals are important.
They bring people together
According to Tracey Wallace from Eterneva, “Mourning rituals and ceremonies are meant to bring people together, to take the hands of those mourning the loss and lead them astray from isolation”.
They help us become more emotionally resilient
In a grief study done by Harvard, researchers found that those who have shown little to no grief symptoms within 1 month of a loss all had one thing in common: they performed rituals to remember, grieve, celebrate and process the loss.
They help us to feel more in “control” of our lives
In the same study mentioned above, subjects who either performed a ritual or wrote about creating a ritual felt that “‘things were in check’ and less likely to feel ‘helpless’, ‘powerless’, and ‘out of control’.”
They create a sense of familiarity in a world without our loved ones
One of the key aspects of rituals is a shared sense of meaning and familiarity. The Conversation put it best when they said, “Using familiar words and actions in an unfamiliar situation can help us find our way through it”.
They allow us space to process our emotions and thoughts
In the aforementioned Harvard Study, researchers realized that it was a personal ritual that helped grievers the most through their grief journey. Although most of the personal rituals described seemed completely meaningless to the researchers, it was little acts the grieving did, such as washing a car on the same day every week, which helped them emotionally process. Through performing these rituals, grievers felt more sad at the time. But after the ritual, they felt relieved and lighter emotionally.
Here are some funeral ritual ideas created by funeralOne.
Whether you decide to do these rituals with your families, or simply share them, we hope these ideas will help bring more healing into the hearts of those who have faced a loss:
Create a memory box with families
Gather photos, mementos, clothing items, some of the loved one’s favorite items into a box. Include poems and quotes that remind you of your loved one. Keep the box in a special, accessible place so you can visit it certain times of the year.
Plant a tree or flower garden
Plant a tree or flower garden in honor of the loved one. Everytime you water it, you can spend some time remembering the loved one, and stay connected to them.
Host a gathering at the loved one’s favorite place
Whether it’s their place of work, favorite park, or dream destination they always wanted to visit, by creating a gathering at these places we can connect to our lost loved one’s passions and favorite hobbies, creating familiarity in a time of emotional chaos.
Carry on the loved one’s favorite rituals
Carry on your loved one’s traditions. Did they always go to the same restaurant every Friday? Get takeout or go out to eat at that location to treat yourself and remember your loved one.
Using the loved one’s social memorial website, families can share a memory or a post of remembrance about the loved one on special days of the year. This gives them space to talk about the loved one and publicly heal their grief.
Give meditation or breathwork a try
We’ve offered breathwork and meditation sessions and we highly suggest you give them a try. You can find them on YouTube, or check out our favorite, Breathe Into Being You. Meditation and breathwork is a good practice to do for the first weeks following a death. It brings peace and helps to know you’re supported in this journey following the loss.
What kinds of rituals have you used or accustomed to? Share them with us!