There are traditional places where intimate forms of grief take place. A wake, for example, is done customarily at home. In our modern world wakes take place in public funeral homes making intimacies hard to come by. We need to reclaim and recreate these more imitate and homey ways to grieve our loved ones and not depend solely on public forms of grief. We need to take ownership of the process of mourning. We need not have one ritual or one time set aside for grieving. The press of people at public funerals often becomes too much, and we want to gather with those close to us to remember. I am not saying do away with the traditional funeral, do both. Have the public funeral, but also make time to have a gathering with those closest to you to share stories and memories. This is your grief. This is your loss. If you want to take time to gather and share stories, or take time to hike the person’s favourite trail as a memorial, no one will stop you. It’s time we took responsibility for our own loss, and create ways for us to remember those we miss.
Memorials can take place anytime and take on the forms that speak to us. Memorials are about shared love and remembering. In the end, no one can tell you how to remember someone you love. No one can tell you that you cannot meet at another time to remember someone. The sad-joyful work of mourning is ours to manage. Traditions allow us a chance to not worry about what we do next when faced with life changing events. I love the traditions in my life. They are my strength. Living a tradition should not confine you. Give yourself permission to remember those who have died in any ways that make sense to you. No one can take that away from you.
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