Friday, October 21, 2011

Informal Bereavement-Grief Rituals After the Death Ritual (Research, Video 3:46)

Honoring a loved one who has died is not a single act, but a unique personal journey that may consist of many small tributes. With various options available for bringing formal closure to life such as funerals, hospice services, and other memorials, the majority of family members and friends of the deceased still do not attend these traditions. This is not to say that formal death rituals are not appreciated and viewed as significant. But many people rely more on informal grief expressions to help them cope in their daily lives after formal events.

A grief ritual study in Palliative Medicine reports that these important informal rituals, which maintain an ongoing bond with the deceased and ensure remembrance, fall into these four categories:

1)   Rituals to maintain a “direct link” to the deceased
2)   Rituals undertaken “for” the deceased
3)   Rituals that remember the deceased within the community
4)   Rituals viewed as acts of remembrance.

For most people, these informal activities are endearing expressions that sustain them during their long-term adjustment to loss. Death rituals continue to evolve with the passage of time. Choosing how to bring closure to the lives of deceased loved ones becomes more personalized. Increasing numbers of relatives and friends unfasten their earthly connections with loved ones and move forward with informal rituals. Do you have any informal rituals connected to deceased loved ones?

This video titled In Memory of My Grandma is an example of how a family member copes with loss and honors grandmother Agnes Rehfeldt.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback at many booksellers and in e-book form at Amazon and Barnes and Noble booksellers.

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