The story of human social development is shows us how civilisations have used ritual ceremonies to confront and deal with the inevitable challenges of life. We have been using habitual practices throughout our evolution to mark key stages in life. Celebrating Nature’s rhythms are two examples, and loss and grieving are also helped in this way.
Separation and loss are heard to bear, and often made all the harder when the separation is incomplete.
The hardship comes when we lose something or someone we have loved or depended on. That which we had was part of an identity we enjoyed, and when we lose it we also lose part of ourselves, for a time.
Some people fill the void with rancour, regret and rage. Others keep the relationship alive by sentimentalising their loss. Though these reactions may be natural at first, if they are prolonged, things can get tricky.
Healing involves moving past what we had. This means accepting the separation as a point of no-return, and freeing ourselves from its drag. Continual yearning for what has gone risks us getting caught up in trying to recreate it.
One way to help the process along is to recognise the role that ritual can play, if you let it. People have been creating rituals since our very beginnings; it seems that they touch parts of us and affect us in ways that nothing else can.
Here’s a simple idea as a starter: Any time you have to deal with significant change, consider creating a ritual to honour the past, mark the present, and welcome the future.