In the Christian Faith, November has traditionally been the month of remembering and honouring the lives of those who have passed over to the spirit realm. I don’t know about you but I think that no matter what books you have read on grief or course you have done, it is only when you experience a deep loss in your life that you truly begin to know grief and how it can take hold in you.
I hope you find this post helpful in offering you some support this month.
The Old Way Of Looking At Grief
Growing up, I used to think that grief was something that happened to you after you suffered a death of a loved one. It was supposed to last for a year or so and then you should just get over it (your loss) and move on with your life. I have memories of immediate family members wearing black and not attending any social events.
There was an another tradition where the family didn’t send Christmas cards the first Christmas after their loved one passed away. I don’t remember grief ever talked about, it rarely expressed and certainly not in public.
The New Compassionate Approach To Loss
Thankfully this way of looking at grief has changed. Today, there is a more compassionate and caring approach to grief and loss, one that allows your loss to be talked about. You tend to feel more accepted in your loss and understood. In a way you loss is honoured and it’s valid.
But I really am not wanting to offer you a lot of the theories about grief in this post. I am more wanting to ask you if you allow yourself to take time to grieve and honour your losses?
Indeed, does our busy world allow us to take the time we need to grieve? Maybe you want and need your world to be busy. Perhaps you fear that if you stopped and allowed the pain of the loss you feel to surface, you will be so overwhelmed with grief that you won’t be able to cope.
I get this place and I get the fear that the flow of tears and the deep heartache won’t stop once you have let them be expressed.
I’m No Expert On Grief
I would never see myself as an expert on grief, but over my life time I have had a little training in this area. Many years ago, I trained in the Rainbows Programme for children who experienced grief and loss. I facilitated groups of children as well holding the role of Programme Co-ordinator for a time.
I have also worked with terminal adults, children and their families in my capacity as a coach and energy therapist. During my time in Religious Life, I worked with families as they grieved their loved ones. Then more recently I trained as a funeral celebrant with the Irish Institute of Celebrants and took the Shapes of Grief Online Training Programme, where I learnt a lot about the more modern approaches to grief and loss.
Offering A Creative Space For Grief
With all this training and experience I decided to offer 1 day workshops for small groups to help people get creative with their grief. These workshops are not to help you sort your grief, but more to help you honour your grief in a safe space, away from your normal surroundings.
I decided to offer these days, because we rarely get the space to just be with others going through a similar experience and share our stories. I often find that being creative can offer a focus, something to do when words can’t be found.
There Are No Words In Grief
I tend to find that in times of grief, there are no words that even come close to helping a person make sense or validate what they are going through. Sometimes it’s just about being a presence, making a cup of tea, washing a dish, placing a hand on a shoulder, a compassionate gaze.
Can I Get Over Grief And Loss
For most of us, our experiences of grief and loss can never be ‘got over’, and it is certainly not a one size fits all experience. Please do not think there is something wrong with you because it is taking you years to grieve. You are very normal – grief takes its own time and its own toll on us all.
But over time and with support we will gradually begin to learn to live with the loss we feel in our lives. We will never be able to find meaning in the loss, but we will begin to live again, little by little, and with support from our loved ones and good friends.
Rituals Can Help In Grief
I don’t know how many times I have heard people say that ‘the Irish do grief well’. I am not totally sure what that means, but I do agree with the sentiment of this phrase. Those 3-5 days of mourning after a person dies and before the funeral takes place can really help a family as they try to come to terms with what has just happened.
The visits of friends and family. The stories that are told over a cup of tea. The tangible support that can be felt from the physical presence of people, at this time, is something that can help guide us all during the next months and maybe years after the loss is experienced. These are the many simple rituals that hold us.
November – The Month Of The Dead
In the Christian Way, November is the month to remember those who have passed over. You can go into pretty much any Church during the month of November and find a special space where you can write the names of those you want to be remembered through the month.
Doesn’t matter what country you are in, go to a Christian Church and you will generally find a spacial place where you can write the names of your loved ones and spend time honouring them. I say this because I have actually been in the UK, Spain and France during the month of November and found this to be the case.
November – The Month To Honour Your Grief
But November is not just about remembering those who have passed. November is also for you to honour the grief and sense of loss you have for those that are no longer walking this earth with you in their human form.
Grief Is Tough
This can be difficult to do because with loss comes pain. This pain of loss is often times too overwhelming and so we can only handle very little pieces of this pain at a time. Some describe them as waves. This is what grief has felt like for me – I often say, it comes in waves, some big and some small.
Some waves are great big tidal whoppers that have knocked me right over. While others have been more gentle and so easier to surf.
A Search For Meaning
When you lose someone close quite often you will search for meaning, looking for answers as to why? Why my loved one? Yet, deep down, I think you and I know there are no answers and any answers we do get only serve to raise even more questions.
You Want To Be Left Alone In Your Grief
Sometimes you just want to be left alone in your grief. You don’t want anyone to soothe it, because when you feel grief and pain you nearly feel closer to your loved one. Or, you might think that if you don’t feel pain, you might forget, so you want to feel the pain for ever. Another way if to think that you have no right to feel anything but pain because you are still here and they are gone.
We Each Experience Grief Differently
What I am trying to honour in this post is how we each will experience our loss of loved ones in totally different ways and that is perfectly normal and okay. There is no time limit on grief or no sense to grief. But one thing is for sure, we all need to have the time to grieve and to have our grief witnessed. We also need meaningful rituals, that help us to get through the death and burial.
But the rituals don’t have to stop there. You can have as many rituals as you need, when you need and however you need them to be so they support you as you journey through your grief.
Most important is that you feel acknowledged and supported in and through your grief. So hear me very clearly as I say, it is okay to mourn a loss for as long as you need to mourn that loss.
You might even find that years later you enter into a different kind of mourning. There is no one-size fits all and no one way to grieve.
COVID Robbed Many Of Their Grieving Time
COVID robbed many of their time to grieve. Rituals were missed. The physical support was gone. If you lost someone during COVID, it might be an idea to ask yourself if you have had your grieving time?
Do you need some rituals? Events that will help you come to terms with all that happened and didn’t happen around your loss. Perhaps you may need to take time to get creative with your grief. Perhaps you need help to create a ritual around your loss – something that will help you and your family to honour your loss in your own way.
You can contact me here, if you want some help to create a personal ritual for your loved one.
Make November Your Month To Honour Your Loss
I hope that from reading this post you will take some time this month of November to honour your grief and loss. It doesn’t matter what loss that is. If it impacted you, then you need to honour it.
I hope you will have the courage to strike up a conversation with a friend and find the support you need to help you through your loss. This support may come in the form of a very good friend, a family member or an energy therapist, psychotherapy or your coach.
Have Rituals Of Remembrance
Create the rituals you need through this month that will help you honour your loss. Maybe you loved to climb mountains with this person and climbing a mountain helps you honour your grief and the persons memory.
Maybe you feel close to your loved ones when you walk by the sea. Do what you need to do and make November your special month for honouring your grief and loss.
I like to light candles for loved ones. I have a special box in my energy space and in that box are photos and names of people that I miss and still grieve. During November I will open that box and browse through all the people who are now my soul angels – minding me from their new energy space.
I might go to the beach and imagine I am walking with a special person. I also make contact with metal friends and just talk about old times and fun times and maybe even the sad passing of our mutual connection. I can express my grief through art, stained glass, music and dance.
What would you like to do to ritualise your loss and grief?