Grief Rituals

Grief Rituals

Hi Everyone! I hope that your week is off to a wonderful start! I also hope that you had a great weekend. Well it is Monday, which means that it is “Memorial Monday” here at Salubrity and Soul.

Memorial Mondays are days that I will discuss topics related to grief and loss, and on this first Memorial Monday I’d like to begin this series by discussing healing rituals for grief and loss, or “grief rituals”.

A ritual, (although it may sound like something having to do with witchcraft or something), is actually just a task or activity that is performed, and is considered proven to be personally effective as a means of helping the bereaved move through their grief.

“If you have lost someone you love this year, or if it’s the anniversary of their death, you can celebrate their life by creating a ritual that is meaningful for you.” – Dr. Margaret Rutherford

After my son died I began stocking up on candles because I found that lighting a candle every Friday night beginning at the last hour that he was physically at home, until the hour that we received word of his accident helped me adjust to losing his physical presence within our home. It also helped me to gently process losing our mother/child, mother/son relationship and connection.

That was almost two years ago, and I still practice that ritual, but now instead of lighting a candle every Friday evening, I now light one every evening after dinner at which time I call out my son’s name and declare that this candle lighting is for him and then I go on to say a few words to my son and close with a prayer or some other wording that holds special meaning. I then end each nightly candle lighting by blowing out the candle and then telling my son “good night”.

Another ritual that I have is that I watch, (or rather continue to watch), my son’s favorite television shows. There are several shows that my husband, son and I used to watch together regularly and we would have in-depth conversations about each episode afterwards. That was really hard to adjust to losing by the way…

Continuing to watch those shows helps to remind us of his opinions, perspectives and personality. He used to have his own special spot on the couch and now when we watch those shows it is healing because it’s almost as though we can still feel his presence.

“All healing is first a healing of the heart”. – Carl Townsend

I guess I would probably also include my journaling practice as being one of my grief rituals as well since the writing that that I do for my grief is within a journal that is reserved specifically for expressing my personal feelings about my son, how his loss has affected me – and our family. It is also another way that I speak to my son as well.

The ritual examples that I have just discussed are daily and weekly rituals. However, there are also grief rituals that can be performed monthly or yearly as well; such as memorial rituals. I will talk about those next week so if you are a part of my fellow bereaved tribe, stay tuned for those other helpful ideas.

There are many things that can be done to ease grief. Grief rituals are just a part of the many ways to do so. What makes these rituals so special is that they are often quite personal in nature, and can be created to be very unique representations of the relationship that we had with the person we lost; and our connection to them. So much so, that it can become a way for us to continue feeling that connection – even after they have passed on.

Grief rituals can be helpful in providing, us, the grieved, with some sense of of normalcy during a time when everything seems to be out of control. I like to think of them as a way of “making the burn sting a little less” when you’re needing the world to just slow down a bit because your grief is making it so hard for you to keep up.

That is what grief rituals have done for me. They helped me to re-frame my thinking by making me feel as though what has passed; hasn’t completely passed and it gave me the chance to view my loss in a more positive light by helping me remember that there are so many things that I can still be grateful for within my experience with loss.

One important thing to remember during your grief ritual is to let yourself feel whatever you need to feel, and don’t feel bad if you find that you need to express any anger, or need to cry. Just let it out because that is going to help you get through your pain – even though it may not feel like it. If you don’t find that you need to express any emotion that is fine too. There is no right or wrong way to feel during a grief ritual – or through any aspect of grieving.

Here are a few daily and weekly grief ritual ideas:

  • Write in a grief journal daily.
  • Visit your loved one’s burial or accident site weekly.
  • Light a candle daily or weekly during a specific time of the day to remember and honor your loved one.
  • Watch your loved ones favorite shows, sports or movie.
  • Create a playlist of your loved ones favorite song(s) and play it during a specific time of the day or week.
  • Put fresh flowers in their room weekly.
  • Say a daily prayer for them or recite their favorite quote or other reading.

Do you have any thoughts regarding daily and weekly grief rituals? If you know of any additional grief ritual ideas please feel free to share them with me. I would also be very interested in hearing any stories telling how you were helped, (or not helped), by a grief ritual.

Thank you for reading!

Until the next post…

Take care + be well

Breaking Away

Breaking Away

I have a confession to make. I jumped the gun. About a month ago, I became so overwhelmed, (or should I say that I allowed myself to become so overwhelmed), that I almost gave up. I almost gave up on Salubrity and Soul. Yes, that would have been a terrible thing to do! Especially since (as anyone who has followed my story knows), I waited so long to start it. But, what’s even worse than that is I kept feeling that I would be letting not only myself down, but my son down as well.

So instead of giving up, I decided to just take a nice long break and get back to everything once I feel better prepared to add blogging; and all of the added social connecting that comes with it.

I wrote about “unplugging” once before in my blog post 10 Things A Digital Detox Can Do For You”, but for some reason this time I needed more than a little digital detox. I was burned out and needed something a little more serious. What I needed was a sabbatical – a blogger’s sabbatical. Which is not a real term to my knowledge, but I think it has a nice little ring to it – don’t you?

“Rest is not idle, is not wasteful. Sometimes rest is the most productive thing you can do for body and soul.”

– Erica Layne

I cannot deny that the holidays, memorial event planning, awareness projects, work, overcoming the surprises acknowledged after finally gaining closure after losing my son over a year ago and an unexpected health concern all took a huge toll on me. The writing was on the wall and all I had to do was make a decision. Was I going to try to control and conceal it? Or was I going to take my well-being into my own hands and handle it in a healthy way? The healthy route, obviously, attracted me more.

“Self-care isn’t always manicures, bubble baths & eating healthy food. Sometimes it’s forcing yourself to get out of bed take a shower and participate in life again.”

– Meredith Marple

I knew that there was really only one thing to do, which was to bring everything that I was doing to a grinding halt, and just immerse myself in a sea of self-care. What’s more healthy and wellness minded than that? To notice the signs of burnout and potential additional bereavement issues and then heed to them. To care for yourself when you need to.

There is no shame felt here. Just gratitude and grace. There is no guilt here either. Just a sizable amount of self-love and a sense of contentment. Knowing that in all of my struggles suffering and vulnerability, I still have the faith and courage to keep moving forward – even if that also means that I have to slow down a little bit as well.

On the humorous side, one great thing about this “sabbatical” is that I didn’t have to obtain permission to take it. My only requirement was to seek inspiration, offer myself patience with regard to writing, and to rest and take really good care of myself. Which I did by doing a lot of meditating, a lot of healing baths, nature walking, journaling and changing some of my eating habits.

“Be you, love you, All ways, always.”

Alexandra Elle

While the payoff for taking this “sabbatical” is that I have been able to apply greater focus on enhancing my skills and creativity, assess my needs for engagement and productivity; but in a much less frantic manner. That is a complete win-win in my eyes.

Taking a break isn’t a weakness. Neither is taking as many breaks as you need – especially when you are in the process of healing. It may be the only thing standing between your failure and your success; and at least a break will energize you a little better than any attempt to just continue pushing on through.

Until the next post,

Blessings,

Take Care + Be Well.

Carol

Gratitude

Gratitude

“Gratitude soothes and heals the soul.”

– C.c.m.

Some days won’t be as good as others, but there will always be something good in each day. The key is to keep looking up!

Until the next post…

Blessings, love and light,

Carol

Why I Stopped Saying “I’m Blessed”

Why I Stopped Saying “I’m Blessed”

The words “I’m Blessed” is a phrase that I have used quite often in the past to express the way that I feel about all of the good and wonderful things that I have received and accomplished in my life.  There is no harm in celebrating the good that occurs in our lives…right?  However, one has to ask, does that change if we become a bit too zealous in our efforts to celebrate ourselves and we begin dismissing the misfortune of others?  Does it change if all of the good that we receive changes us – and not for the better? 

I stopped saying “I’m Blessed” a few years ago when I began a volunteer position working with foster youths helping to ensure that they were receiving proper care with regard to their health and well-being in their prospective foster homes.  Just hearing those two words at the time would make me cringe whenever I heard them coming from my mouth or from the mouths of others.  All of a sudden that little special phase began to seem shallow to me, and I just didn’t feel comfortable using it anymore. 

Another reason why I stopped saying it was because I began to notice that there are a lot of people who do not have a “typical” family structure or a “typical” shot at some of the opportunities that others have. Not to mention having the “good fortune” of celebrating the holidays with their loved ones in many instances. I also began thinking about those who had lost their homes and loved ones in recent storms and natural disasters. Once all of this began to infiltrate my mind – well, it was a given that I, personally, no longer felt comfortable using that phrase. 

Once I really began to pay attention to how common these issues are, I realized how egotistical I must have sounded to give myself so much praise and attention when I really didn’t need it – any of it – because I have enough. More than enough, even with all of my own personal struggles and imperfections. I still have enough, and I don’t need to tell anyone about my blessings because we’re all blessed in one way or another. As a result, it became more important for me to just appreciate my blessings and be thankful for them in silence and with grace.

I think the word “blessed” can sometimes be taken out of context to go beyond simply meaning “to be fortunate” or “lucky” and is often instead referred to as being something “more than“, being “highly favored” and exalted by a higher power which is often the result of performing some spectacular act, or just being successful or having a perfect family, appearance or life.

Once I began practicing gratitude as a way of celebrating myself and all of the things that I am fortunate to have or have experienced in my life, everything changed. For one thing, I can honestly say that I am now a more humble and open person and someone who is always conscious of what others may be going through.  Now I count my blessings instead of professing that I am blessed. You and I – well – we are all blessed just for being; and we shouldn’t feel any obligation of having to have had accomplished something  to receive those blessings. Besides, blessings often run out, while gratitude is often the gift that keeps giving; no matter what the situation.  Speaking of giving… I hope that you will join me by still celebrating yourself, (in whatever way you need and prefer to), but by also remembering to always make an effort to try to be a blessing for someone else whenever possible. Blessings to everyone!

Until the next post,

Take care + Be well,

Carol 

Attachment…I think I’ll Stick With It

Attachment…I think I’ll Stick With It

“They say that people are innately afraid of those who need them, they say that people are afraid of “clingyness”, afraid of attachment, afraid of being needed by another. But I beg to disagree. I believe that people when looking at someone who is needy of them, see themselves and see their own fears and they go away because they can’t handle those fears; it’s their own neediness that they’re afraid of! They’re afraid to want and to need because they’re afraid of loss and of losing, so when they see these things in another, that’s when they run away. Nobody is actually running away from other people; everybody is really running away from themselves!” – C. Joybell C.

The term attachment has been getting a lot of attention these days. I cannot recall exactly how many social media posts I have encountered that have stressed the new found acceptance for becoming detached to everything and everyone as a way of avoiding the chance of getting hurt or having to go through the terrible emotions that generally come over us when we lose something or someone.

“The beautiful thing about fear is, when you run to it, it runs away.”

– Robin Sharma

I get it. I understand how the emotionality that correlates with losing something that we like or love can hamper our ability to maintain our focus to get things done, and who wants to be in that type of predicament? When we slow down we are less productive, which in turn, often also means that we will be less accepted.

“Maybe life is about learning a better goodbye. Learning to let go of the one’s we love with nothing but love.” – JM Storm

The thing to remember is that attachment is in all of us. It is a part of us and a very human primal need. Without it, there is the potential to suffer worse than we would had we just succumbed to the attachment. To not want to bond well with something is probably okay; but to not want to bond well or genuinely connect with others is – well – a bit disturbing.

“And – was it really love if you didn’t feel that loss to the very core of your soul?” – Carol C.M.

Fear can protect us, but it can also cause us harm. There is a lot in life that we are not able to run away from, and should not run from if we want to truly experience life. I, for one, can honestly say that my acceptance of being attached to things has brought me as much happiness as it has brought me pain. My greatest lessons in life are those that were born out of immense love, my ability to accept moments of vulnerability, deep interest, passion and ultimately the loss of something or someone whether a relationship, parenthood, or an occupation or something else. I have loved and lost, but I have grown so much and that is what life is all about. Isn’t it? So be grateful for those moments that you realize that you have become attached to something, not fearful because that is just one more place where the beauty of life can be found. Leading you to a most substantial existence and life experience.

Until the next post


If you enjoyed this post or found it helpful please feel free to share it – and as always…

Blessings,

Take care + be well,

Carol xo

Balanced Healing

Balanced Healing

 

“The waves ebb and the waves flow, and yet I never tire of watching from the shore, the way the waves rhythms show their intensity, then inactivity; as if to remind me of what I already know in my heart and in my soul, which is that to life there must be balance, and happiness is empty if sadness we must forego.”

– Carol C.M.

Until the next post.

Blessings,

Take Care + Be Well,

Carol xo