1. For this unit, please return to the directions you got in the preliminaries for this unit: How do you use and experience rituals and ceremonies in your personal and professional life (or student life, for those of you who aren’t yet working). How might you use the “frame” of ritual and/or ceremony to increase the power of your life (and loss) experiences. Consider how you might change your use of ritual and ceremony.
There are many ways in which I experience rituals and ceremonies in my personal and professional life.
For one in my family we have it instilled in us to say grace for the food we are about to eat, whether we are with each other or if we are alone. I personally use rituals at times to build stronger connections to those that are close to me. One ritual that has come from saying grace before eating with my family has now carried over to my friends.
If you come to eat at my house, I will usually ask you to say a grace or what you are thankful for at that moment. If this person comes to eat regularly then we will rotate turns, so it is even sharing. It can be uncomfortable for those that are not used to this practice, but everyone seems to enjoy it over time. A few friends have started doing it at their house too. This is one example of ritual and use experience. Professionally there is a group of us that go out after work once a week to get food and talk.
This is usually every Thursday night. We have been doing this for years now and we have an open invitation to anyone that wants to start coming. This ritual has benefitted us by increasing our connectedness and we tend to have better relations while working and help each other out more. I think that ritual and or ceremony can increase the power of your life and loss experiences by assisting you to build better connections to people and things as I have described above. It can also be helpful in increasing the power you have in losses by creating a positive ritual or ceremony that will assist in the grieving process and possibly move you through your grief by giving you a ritual to look forward, replacing a void that can be felt by the loss. One thing I think I would change would be how I grieve the loss of those on the anniversary of their death. Sometimes when the date of a family or friend that died comes up there is typically days of thought and reflection, with sadness too. I really liked in the lecture how on birthdays the family would hold hands and talk about what they appreciated about the person who was celebrating. It made me think about getting people that all loved the person that died together and spending time on the anniversary of their death to talk about the good times that they remember and be together. I think this would be a nice change that could create a positive experience and connection with others.
2. In earlier lectures, we’ve discussed the idea that death does not end a relationship; rather, it transforms the relationship. With those thoughts in mind, address the following questions: How do ritual and ceremony allow for change and connection at the same time? In what ways do they provide meaning for the loss experience?
Ritual and ceremony allow for change and connection at the same time by recreating the relationship that you have with the one you lost at the same time building a new connection with that person. My grandmother used to bake banana bread all the time in my family and we can all remember going to her house and enjoying that. When she passed away this experience as with many others where not there. I ironically wound up being the one that can make the best banana bread in the family, second to my grandmother of course. I know that when I make it, I find myself thinking of my grandmother the entire time, almost as if I am making it with her. This has been a ritual for some time now and I think created a new connection to her and change in our relationship that allows it to continue past her death. I have also been able to continue the ritual of the family enjoying banana bread by making it for them much like my grandmother did for us. This also I think helps my family think of her too and continues her memory with them as it does for me.
I think rituals and ceremony do not necessarily provide meaning for the loss experience as much as they assist in the grieving process and provide an opportunity to continue to connect to that person in a positive way. It can be a form of closure with the loss if it is a ritual or ceremony to have a viewing and funeral, like we do in my family. Or it can be a way to continue and reconnect with a loved one in a new way that extends beyond this world. They also can be a coping mechanism to deal with the loss and provide a framework to go through that creates tasks to complete. This at times can be comforting to people as it keeps them busy or distracted for the initial time of grief. I think ritual and ceremony provide a way to experience the loss more then they provide a meaning for the loss experience.