It’s common to hear that the key to “letting go” is acceptance. But, how do we begin to accept the loss of a loved one? Often times, Celebration of Life and other death ceremonies feature rituals where you physically let go of something to bring acceptance for your loss. Here are four ways to cope with loss by physically and emotionally releasing of your grief.
1. Releases into the Wind
Letting something fly into the wind is an extremely powerful and concrete method of “letting go.” Releasing balloons, butterflies, doves, and/or lanterns are common therapeutic displays of release at a Celebration of Life ceremony. With balloon and lantern releases, a personalized message addressed to your loved one could be included to help get through your feelings. There are several kinds of eco-friendly, bio-degradable balloons and lanterns available for releases into the wind.
Releases into the wind can be done with small groups of friends and family, or even alone. The beach is a common venue for both solo or small group releases. An example of this type of activity could be to pick up a handful of sand at your favorite beach, meditate upon your loved one, then slowly release the sand through your fingers to signify release.
2. Make a Flower Mandala
Buddhist monks use mandalas as a way to practice non-attachment, and you can use it as a way of letting go too. This is a unique idea you can use at your Celebration of Life ceremony, solo or small group experience.
Pick out flowers and use intention while placing them in a unique design inspired by your loved one. When completed, you can release them into the wind, float them down a stream or place them in the ocean. This is a distinctive method of release, and is also an effective experiential activity for children.
3. Use Fire
It’s been said that the Vikings used to cremate their deceased along with their personal belongings. Similarly, you could write a letter, pick out meaningful photos, or gather other personal items and burn them into ashes as a therapeutic method of release.
The key to this process is to have intention throughout. Pay close attention to lighting the fire, watching it burn, placing the articles into the fire, and seeing as they turn into ashes.
4. Let it Float Away
This method was personally effective when I was grieving a loss a few years ago. I got a few white, long stem roses, which represents purity and innocence to me. I went to one of my favorite spots and stood on the rocks overlooking the Pacific Ocean. I prayed and meditated about the person I was having a hard time letting go of. When I felt at one with the ocean and my grief, I tossed the roses into the ocean and watched them as they were carried out to sea. This was a personal, powerful and tangible exercise in letting go.
This same process can be carried out at a moving stream or a lake. Choose something of meaning for you, whether
it be flowers, clothing, jewelry or other meaningful items, and watch them float away as you begin to let go.
Just as no two people grieve in quite the same way, it’s important to remember that whatever you choose to do, there is no right or wrong way of conducting a release ceremony. Choose a physical method of release that has the most meaning for you while you honor your dearly departed, and you’ll be able to cope with your loss and take steps towards letting go.