GRIEF AND MEANINGLESSNESS AND THE VALUE OF RITUALS
Value of Rituals
This month, we would like to share an article written by Stacia Sickle, MSW, LCSW, Director of Grief & Bereavement programs.
A colleague tells this story about the death of his grandfather:
When my grandfather passed away earlier this year, we were unable to have a funeral due to the COVID restrictions—no one from out-of-state could come, no one could host a wake or visit the funeral parlor and view the body and at the cemetery no more than 10 people, including the priest, could be there as he was interred. So we were denied all of the comforting traditions and rituals that our family typically relies upon to express our grief. It wasn’t the fault of Western Culture, it’s just that current restrictions have caused us to have to adapt the way we mourn.
The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically impacted our daily lives, our coping mechanisms and our sense of security and safety. The sorrow of the world and our own personal sorrows may feel especially overwhelming. Social distancing has changed our way of being in the world and hindered our ability to gather, whether with friends and family or for a traditional funeral, causing severe strain and feelings of isolation. Grief is not meant to be done alone therefore we may have to rethink how we intentionally grieve during a pandemic.
The grief we feel when faced with the death of a loved one challenges our physical, emotional, cognitive, social and spiritual wellbeing. These dimensions are interwoven, and to focus only on one dimension to the exclusions of the others is like driving a car with one tire. We need all four tires to move forward. Therefore we need to acknowledge all five dimensions if we want to move through the pain of grief.