I recognize that not everyone has a spiritual or religious structure in his or her life. I understand that some people do not believe in the divine. I grew up with one set of atheist grandparents, while my father was a priest. This gave me a great perspective on life. When these grandparents died it took awhile to have a memorial service for them. For each, poetry played a dominant role in the memorial. Grandpa was a poet and both were lovers of the English language. I think it took time to create these services because not everyone finds rituals easy to create. We are creatures of ritual. Sleep and waking rituals are among the most common. At the time of loss, ritual might help us put into action what we cannot yet put into words, and for this reason, I am providing a simple ritual outline for a memorial. You can make it as complicated or as simple as needed or wanted. You might add a party and either begin or end with the memorial. That is up to you. The ritual is designed to make it easy to have a memorial and give a physical expression of grief.
Candle Story Telling Memorial
When someone we love dies, it leaves a hole in our lives. We remember them in stories, and if they live big enough, those stories go down through the generations. This is a simple ritual. You need only people candles, stories, table and a place for people to gather. You might also need Kleenex. The idea is to have loved ones gather, each can bring his or her own candle, or candle holder. Someone should lead the event.
Suggested Opening Remarks:
I’m glad you all could come today as we remember Joe. We all love him and miss him. Today, we gather to remember our favourite moments, stories or poems. Feel free to step forward or speak from where you stand. After you have spoken, please bring up your light place it on the table and then the next person can speak. No one should feel obligated to speak tonight if he or she does not wish to. (Leader begins the story telling or memory.)
After a long time when no one has spoken, the leader asks if there is anyone else who wishes to speak, if not then the remainder should bring up the lights they have.
Suggested Closing Remarks:
Thank you all for coming. We will all miss Joe, but let us remember the light he gave us when he was alive and let us remember our connection to each other through knowing him. In the coming days, weeks and months, let us remember the light we shared here of what his life meant to us.
This could work for a bonfire where people add in their own sticks to the fire while they speak.
One can always add in food and music to the event, as this is also a time where sharing and storytelling takes place and gives people a sense of connection to the person who has died and to those who also loved them. The memorial can either be at the opening of the gathering or the close. You might want to up it in the middle. The point is this is a framework should make creating a memorial easier. Use it anyway that makes sense for you and those you love.