Care Giver Section
Creating Rituals During The Holidays
Webster's Dictionary defines:
Rite - as a prescribed form or
manner governing the words or
actions for a ceremony. A
ceremonial act or action;
Ritual - as relating to rites or
ritual, according to a religious
law or social custom; the established
form for a ceremony; a ceremonial
act of action; any formal and
customarily repeated act or
series of acts.
There are many types of rituals other
than purely religious. Taking a daily
morning walk or meditating can be
considered a ritual. For most, the
term "ritual" represents an extended
meaning to a set of actions. Many think
of funeral memorials, deaths and rites
of passage as rituals. Creating rituals
during the holidays is a way to give
special meaning to those for whom you
are caring as well as those for whom
you are grieving. Creating a sacred
ritual can offer a tremendous sense
of honoring for the loved one you are
missing. It also offers balance, comfort
and support for you. The overall effect
of creating rituals can assist you in
coping with the coming holidays.
In continuing with your healing over
your loss, you might also design rituals
for anniversaries, birthdays and other
events that were symbolic for you and
your loved one. Rituals can help you to
establish the spiritual meaning and
understanding of your loss. The ritual
becomes an ongoing memorial or
representation that you can respond
to and absorb the significant changes
that have taken place.
When you create a ritual from your heart,
special meaning will fill you with purpose
and most of all love.
Suggestions for filling your holiday loss
and tears with celebration and love:
* Express yourself through artwork.
* Begin your holiday dinner with a
minute of silent prayer and a toast
in their honor
* Send up a balloon(s) with messages
and prayers to your loved one.
* During the meal ask the question,
"What comes to your mind when you think
of _________?", and share memories with
those who surround you.
* Plant a tree or a special plant in
their honor in your garden or in your home.
* Create special Christmas ornaments
for your tree and hang a stocking in
* Write a letter or even keep a journal
of your thoughts.
* Light a candle(s) in their memory.
* Place a single flower or bouquet
of flowers that your loved one cherished
as the centerpiece.
* The "Shames" or head candle in the
Hanukah celebration can be in honor of
your loved one.
* Look at pictures (or display pictures)
from past holidays shared with your loved
one. View videos, audiotapes and any
remembrances, which reflect on the
wonderful times you experienced together.
* Design a quilt with the memories you have.
* Write a brief history of the ups and
downs you have experienced in the past
year and place it into a Christmas stocking
or some memorable cache that you can add
* Play a favorite song
* Create a sacred alter with photos and
treasures where you can sit and reflect.
* If you vacation in a special area that
you used to go to with your loved one,
do something special in honor of them.
* Consider volunteering for an organization
affiliated with your loved one;s illness,
hospice or a caregiving program to help
others through your own experiences.
* Vounteer to help feed the
homeless over Thanksgiving
* Volunteer to read or spend time with
the elderly in nursing homes, hospitals
or to read and spend time with children
who have terminal illnesses in hospitals.
* Donate gifts in your loved one's name.
This is even more special when you donate
in memory at their birthday, a special
* Offer a scholarship in a loved one's name.
Rituals empower people emotionally,
mentally, and spiritually. Caregivers in
all countries who create rituals through
customs, traditions, and their own desire
to invent a new ritual that provides meaning
in their life, have the opportunity to
extend a person's presence beyond death.
While our society encourages us to mourn
quickly and return to our normal lives,
it is particularly difficult for former
caregivers who have experienced so much
loss in their roles. The death of a loved
one after a long period of caring leaves
the caregiver without motivation, a sense
of place, self confidence, a network of
friends and socialization challenges to
actually make the return to our own lives
once again. It is not just the loss of a
loved one you experience; it is the loss
of many things that were put on hold.
As you move through your grief, remember
that there is no right or wrong way to
grieve. Each person grieves in his or her
own way and in his or her own time. It is
a wonderful opportunity to reach out to
support groups and learn how others are
healing from their own personal losses.
This gives you additional support and
understanding. It also gives you reason to
understand that you will move through your
grief, just as others have.
With understanding and healing, you will
find that you may not return to your life
as it was before you became a caregiver.
You may find that you have grown in ways
you could not have imagined, thus creating
a newer more fulfilling life; perhaps even
new identity based on the transformational
experiences you have gone through in you
role as a Caregiver.
Rmember to be gentle and nurturing to
Richest blessings on your journey.
Copyrighted Gail R. Mitchell 11/08/01
Gail R. Mitchell is the creator
of the Empowering Caregivers Site
www.care-givers.com. She is the
spokeswoman for the Caregivers Area
at the Boomer's International site
She has consulted for other caregiving
sites. She is a featured columnist for
FinalThoughts.com and TheCareGuide.com
Her articles have been published in
the National caregiving magazine
"Today's Caregiver" here in the
United States and in Canada's National
caregiving magazine, "CANGO QRTLY."
Recently Ms. Mitchell founded the
National Organization for Empowering
Caregivers (NOFEC) www.nofec.org
to help raise the nation's consciousness
about family caregiving in hopes of
providing respite, support and education
to those in need.
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