Be Ceremonial

A Wildfire Grief Ritual To Connect Us

The power of ritual when grieving

We wanted to share a wildfire grief ritual to connect us, and to bring our community together in the midst of a shared grief experience.

We are currently in the midst of the worst wildfire season in Canada and we have already witnessed so much destruction and loss across British Columbia, Northwest Territories, and beyond. The aftermath of these wildfires will leave a trail of devastation, not just in terms of physical destruction but also emotional scars.

As a compassionate community, it’s essential to stand together and offer support to those affected by these traumatic events.

We will be hosting a Community Grief Ritual on Friday, Aug 25th with our dear friends at Death Doula Network International. If you feel called to join, you can sign up to join us, or create space in your own way to acknowledge what you are holding.

Before diving into the ritual and ceremony creation, it’s crucial to acknowledge the profound impact wildfires can have on individuals and communities. The loss of homes, belongings, and even lives can lead to feelings of grief, anxiety, and helplessness.

Many people also experience a sense of displacement and uncertainty about the future, especially as it relates to climate change. Recognizing these emotions and validating them can be the first step towards offering effective support.

Here are some meaningful ways to lend a helping hand, as well as introduce a community ritual that supports healing and connection, while ensuring cultural sensitivity and inclusivity:

Ways to Support

Active Listening and Empathy

One of the most meaningful ways to support wildfire survivors is by lending a listening ear. Create a safe space for them to express their thoughts and feelings, without judgment. Let them know that their emotions are valid and that you care about their well-being.

Practical Assistance

Offer practical help, such as providing meals, clothing, or shelter. Collaborate with local relief organizations to ensure that your support is targeted and relevant to the survivors’ needs.

Community Gathering

Organize a community gathering, in person or virtually, to provide a platform for people to share their stories if they are comfortable doing so. This can foster a sense of unity and help people realize that they are not alone in their grief journey.

Wellness Support

Connect survivors with mental health resources, counselling services, and support groups. Consider the role of community care, including how we can create our own healing circles and connection spaces to acknowledge what we are each holding.

Creating a Wildfire Grief Ritual

Rituals can serve as powerful tools for healing and connection, as long as they are respectful and accessible to all.

Here’s a simple universal ritual to help acknowledge what people might be holding in the midst of and aftermath of a wildfire.

This ritual is descriptive not prescriptive, meaning it can be adapted to suit your needs and reflect your values. If you would like to share with our community, use the hashtag #wildfiregriefritual

Materials Needed:

  • Stones or pebbles (one for each participant)
  • Biodegradable markers
  • A large bowl filled with water

Steps:

  1. Gathering: Invite participants to sit in a circle, ensuring a comfortable and respectful distance between each person. If you’re gathering online, join with gallery view so everyone can see one another. You can also do this ritual on your own, creating a circle of care around yourself.
  2. Intention: Explain to the group that this ritual is focused on connection, not on fixing or solving anything. The is about acknowledging what each person is carrying, which is often many things at once, and holding space for ourselves and our community to sit with those feelings and feel validated and witnessed.
  3. Symbolic Stones: Distribute stones or pebbles to each participant, or invite them to bring their own if joining virtually. These stones represent each individual’s personal intention for the ceremony, including acknowledging any feelings of grief, anger, healing or renewal. Have each person hold their stones as they consider what they are grieving.
  4. Words of Meaning: Encourage participants to use biodegradable markers to write on their stone something that signifies what they are holding in this moment. It could be a single word, a sentence, or an image. This could be something they lost, someone they are sending love to, an emotion they are experiencing, or a word that calms them.
  5. Water Release: Invite people to gently place their marked stones into the bowl of water, taking a few deep breaths as they so do. They can speak their words out loud or quietly to themselves, without explanation. As each stone touches the water and sinks to the bottom, invite everyone to hold a moment of silence to honour what is being shared.
  6. Shared Reflection: Once all the stones have been placed in the water, invite participants to share in more details, if they choose. They can share what they wrote and why, what it means and how it feels. This sharing can foster a sense of community connection, reminding everyone that they are not alone in their journey and that everyone is holding and grieving so much.
  7. Collective Acknowledgment: As a group, take a moment to acknowledge the intentions and shared experiences by rubbing your hands together, warming them up with the warmth and love you feel. Hold yours hands out to one another, sending that love and heat into the circle and beyond. You can do this virtually across the screen as well. This collective energy reinforces the notion that this is a community of connection, unity and support.

Supporting individuals affected by wildfires involves more than just physical aid – it’s about acknowledging their pain, creating a space for healing, and fostering a sense of unity. The secular ritual we shared here is a small yet meaningful step towards providing solace and connection in the face of adversity. Remember, genuine compassion and inclusivity can help create effective support that transcends boundaries and cultures.

We will be hosting a free virtual ceremony on Friday, Aug 25th with the Death Doula Network International. You can register here or watch our social media channels for more information about our gathering or ways to support yourself and those you care for.

We are all holding so much; let’s find ways to hold it together.

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