Creating new rituals during the holidays can help us process, express and share our emotional experiences with each other, coming up with new ways to acknowledge what we’re feeling.
The holiday season has always been a time of tradition and togetherness. It’s a time when families and friends gather to celebrate, share joy, and create lasting memories. However, life is dynamic, and circumstances change. The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly reshaped our world, forcing us to adapt and find new ways to connect, especially when it comes to grieving and honoring loved ones.
Traditions and rituals play a crucial role in our lives. They provide stability, comfort, and a sense of continuity. However, life is filled with unexpected challenges and transitions, and the holidays are no exception. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, geographical separation, or a global pandemic like COVID-19, our rituals may need to adapt to accommodate our changing circumstances.
Grief and the Holidays
Acknowledging grief during the holidays is important as it can be a challenging and emotionally charged time, especially if you’ve experienced the loss of a loved one.
Whether you’re mourning the loss of a family member or a close friend, grieving what’s happening in the world right now, or feeling the absence of someone or something, this time of year can be overwhelming. Traditionally, holiday rituals often involve gathering together, which can be a painful reminder of the absence. This is where the need for creating new rituals becomes particularly significant.
Remember that grief is a highly personal journey, and there is no right or wrong way to cope with it. The key is to acknowledge your feelings, seek support when needed, and find ways to remember and honor your loved one during the holiday season in a way that is meaningful and healing for you.
Creating New Grief Rituals
Karla Helbert shares that, “Times of grief are when we need ritual most. Unfortunately, in our society, there are few rituals that are specifically designed for grieving people, aside from the funeral or memorial service. These are necessary and helpful, but grieving people need more than a couple of rituals to help quell the deep chaos the death of a loved one can bring. Creating your own personal rituals to remember your loved ones allows you to access and work through your grief in a safe and constructive way.”
When we can’t all be together, or when someone has passed away, it’s important to explore new ways of acknowledging and processing grief during the holidays. Here are a few ritual ideas to consider:
Empty Plate Ritual
The empty plate ritual is a symbolic and meaningful practice that can be incorporated into holiday traditions, particularly when dealing with grief and when physical togetherness is not possible. It involves setting an empty place at the dinner table to honor and remember a loved one who has passed away.
A release ritual can be a meaningful and cathartic practice for people to acknowledge their grief during the holidays. By writing things down on paper and burning them in a fire, it provides an opportunity to let go of emotions, pay tribute to loved ones, and find a sense of closure.
Creating memory boxes filled with mementos, photographs, and letters to honor the memory of your loved one can be a beautiful way to reconnect with their legacy. Each family member can contribute to the box and take turns sharing their memories.
We have lots more rituals to choose from in the Daily Rituals section of our App. Set up an account and you can access some of them for free, or all of them if you become a member of our ceremonial community.
Why creating new rituals is important
The COVID-19 pandemic forced us to adapt and create new realities. It emphasized the importance of flexibility and innovation in the face of adversity. As we experienced lockdowns, travel restrictions, and social distancing, we discovered that we could still connect and celebrate, even when physically apart.
Many of the virtual gatherings, creative celebrations, and connection rituals that emerged during the pandemic can be applied to grief rituals during the holidays. The lessons learned from this challenging period can help us navigate the difficult terrain of mourning and remembrance.
Creating new rituals during the holidays is a powerful way to adapt to changing circumstances, especially when dealing with grief and separation. By embracing change and honoring our loved ones in meaningful ways, we can find solace, connection, and a renewed sense of purpose during the holiday season. In doing so, we show that love and memory transcend distance and time, bringing us closer even when we can’t be physically together.
Be sure to check out the various daily rituals we now offer in our App, including Daily Rituals for Grief.