Rest Supports Grieving: Grief Rituals


As we cope with a global pandemic and the uncertainty that it will bring, I am meditating on the following: Lament, Mourning, Grief, Rest, Thriving, Spiritual Tools, and the concept of Less Thinking/Doing and More Feeling/Stillness. 

We are grieving and may not even want to recognize it or hold space for it because of our socialization to “Keep Going!” This denial of the process of grieving creates more trauma and in the long run, disrupts our healing. One of our popular memes on our IG Page reads: “Grinding keeps us in a cycle of trauma. Rest can disrupt this cycle.”

“Grieving is a process that cannot be rushed to get to the happy thoughts and self-satisfaction that our culture promotes. As a nation, we do not like to dwell on defeat or pain, we take pride in our can-do attitude of overcoming adversity.  Lament helps up to tell our stories of suffering loss and pain.”Grounded in the Living Word: The Old Testament and Pastoral Care Practices, Denise Dombkowski Hopkins and Michael S. Koppel, p.137. 

On an IG Live last week for Wanderlust, I spoke about grief rituals that we could use right now to cultivate silence, softness, and mindfulness. I uplifted the ritual of creating a grief jar and using poetry as an opportunity to experience a new language that is comforting for our hearts and minds. 

GRIEF JAR: I believe grieving is an important and deeply healing spiritual practice. I believe that God is in the details and our everyday experiences can provide space to heal, connect and honor ourselves. Our micro-histories are an opportunity to problem solve and restore balance to unsettling and toxic daily experiences. We matter. Our stories matter. Our rest matters. 

An idea on creating a Grief Jar: Find a small/medium-sized jar or container around your home that can serve as your “Grief Jar.” Place in a prominent area of your living space so that it can become a symbol for the beauty of grief, lament, and mourning. I have a small mason jar on my desk in my home office. Next, cut up pieces of paper large enough to write text and small enough to fold up. Throughout your day and week, take a few moments to notice and allow for moments of grief. Yesterday, I wrote of my tenderness and sadness for my 12-year-old son who will not be able to celebrate his birthday this weekend with his annual sleepover with friends. He told me he is sad and we leaned into the grief together. 

Remember, “Grief comes when people miss one another…Grief is an emotional recognition that something is missing. To acknowledge rather than dismiss this missing is a sacred act of reverencing absence. We can miss what has been – a person, a thing, a relationship, or a commitment, that no longer exists. We can also miss what has never been.” -Grounded in the Living Word: The Old Testament and Pastoral Care Practices, Denise Dombkowski Hopkins and Michael S. Koppel, p.121. 

After making space to notice these feelings of missing, write them down on a slip of paper and add it to the jar. Do this as many times as you need to. Skip some days if that feels right. Let the grief jar serve as a container for the particulars for the now and remembrance of your grief journey. Take a nap or daydream for a few minutes each day that you add to the Grief Jar. Be still. 

POETRY WRITING: Poetry is another language that allows us to reach deep into the truth. I have been writing and teaching poetry for close to 20 years. We have read poetry to mark the beginning and end of our Collective Napping Experiences since our first one in 2017. During this slowdown and mourning period as a result of the Coronavirus, I have been writing and reading poetry daily as a way to slow down and listen. Poetry writing also deals with details, knowing and stillness. You must listen deeply to experience the beauty of a poem. I have been working with this poetry prompt, “Things to do when grief is concerned,” and hope it is a starting point for you to experiment with constructing your own.

Here is the first draft of mine: 

Things to Do When Grief is Concerned by Tricia Hersey

Call Walgreens Pharmacy and wait on hold for 20 minutes to place an order for a prescription. Be delighted when the pharmacy tech answers. She is so sweet and pleasant. We are both overwhelmed. Pray. Rest.

Smile when you hear the US Mail truck drive near your house. Rest.

Send nudes. Respond to every text you receive with a heart emoji. Even the one from Pizza Hut. Rest.

Deactivate your FB page, Twitter account and leave Instagram for awhile. Seek out Valley moments. Things are grounded there. Rest.

Build an altar with the bathtub as the base. Pour warm water, Epsom salt, eucalyptus, and lavender oil. Baptize yourself daily. Mourn in the water. Uplift your privilege in having clean water and oils. Rest.

Reminisce about the time when you were a child at church and you counted your Mother hug 40 people between Sunday School and the dismissal of the 11am service. Long for hugs. Rest.

Get drunk off uncertainty and remember your Ancestors built a spaceship from uncertainty. Stand in the traces of this resistance. Embrace the power there. Rest.

Cry for no particular reason. Realize mid-cry there are so many particular reasons. Rest. 

Write 15 handwritten letters, mail them by getting dressed up after a week in sweat pants. Walk to the mailbox at the end of the driveway. Walk slow. Pose. Look up at the sky. Rest.

Stare out of every window at trees. Examine the sky. Give thanks for deep daydreaming. Rest.

Embrace the feeling of being out of control for 15 minutes, Feel your body free-fall into a cloud of care. Diagram this moment. Archive it for the future. Rest.

Rest. Deep rest. Slower movements. Slower moments. Focus on things with intense study. The way my hands move while washing the dishes, the smell of cocoa butter, how my cat’s stomach moves up and down while he naps for 10  hours a day. Become a vessel for stillness. A miracle walking. 

Nap. Rest. 

-Your Faithful Nap Bishop




3 thoughts on “Rest Supports Grieving: Grief Rituals

  1. Thank you for so beautifully articulating that which has been floating around in my head but I could not find the words for. You are so right; we are not acknowledging the profound loss we are collectively experiencing.


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