Have You Recently Lost a Loved One?

About Death, Ritual and Meaning

Have you recently lost a loved one?

I’ve lost several during this past year, including my mother, best friend for much of my life, and one of my favorite uncles.

It’s my sense that I’m not alone here, and that many who have lost someone have lacked the usual rituals that were commonplace during pre-Covid times.

Rituals of closure are important for two reasons:

  • A ritual allows the living to more fully come to terms with the loss
  • It gives the departed one a sense of peace, particularly if the departure was marked by some tragic or traumatic event.

It’s my belief that the recently departed one may be experiencing a sudden shock of being unexpectedly removed from earthly existence.

S/he may also be in a kind of limbo/purgatory state between the early experience and the “settled” non-physical experience.

Even if one does not accept my beliefs, a ritual might help.

That’s particular true for those of us who are for various reasons are “unchurched” or “spiritual but not religious.” For these folks, finding a proper ritual can prove to be a challenge.

In that spirit, here’s a simple ritual my family and I performed:

  1. Gather close family and friends in sacred space
  2. Place an image of the loved ones in the center of this sacred space. Optionally, Include relevant artifacts from the beloved’s life
  3. Begin with a prayer/offering/invocation to mark the passage into sacred space
  4. Each survivor directly addresses the departed one. These may be things they want to share and may include what’s been unsaid during “life.
  5. Close with a prayer/invocation/whatever-appropriate asking for the departed one’s peaceful passage.

What rituals have you used or heard about? What has brought you comfort after the recent passage of a loved one?

I’m the director of the Sacred Inclusion Network, originator of Sacred Conversations and the author of Notes for a New Age.

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