Healing Rituals for Grievers


When you hear the word ritual, what comes to mind?  Do you think of public ceremonies, religious services or formal music?  Rituals can involve any or all of these elements, but there are also many other possibilities you may not have considered. 

Rituals can also be personal, intimate and creative.

People missing a loved one who has died often use rituals without even recognizing it as such.

  • Do you share memories of your special person with others?
  • Do you include them in a blessing or toast at a family dinner?
  • Is there a song, poem or photograph you like to focus on and think of them?

All these activities can provide comfort while maintaining your thoughts and connection to those you miss.

Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care provides a wide array of grief support services that often help grievers create rituals to remember family or friends in loving, healing ways that foster a sense of peace. Those who have had a patient on Kansas City Hospice service are offered the expertise of one of our grief support professionals for the year following the death.

Those in the community who have experienced the death of someone important are also served through Solace House, Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care’s center for grief and healing. This program provides support to children and adults, utilizing peer support groups, individual services, and youth and family retreat weekends.  More information can be found on our website KCHospice.org

If you’re bereaved, you may feel pressured to “move on” and stop focusing on who you are missing. You may be avoiding reflection to escape your feelings. You may not know what to do. A caring listener can be very healing.

Here are some ideas for your consideration and to help you along the path toward creating your own rituals. Remember, when creating your ritual or expressions, choose what feels meaningful and comforting for you and your family.

  • Write words of encouragement or cherished attributes of a loved one with a paint pen or permanent marker on smooth river rocks. Keep the rocks in your garden, on a shelf or on a bedside table to reflect on when you choose.
  • Place a special candle in a meaningful spot in your home. Light it when they are on your mind or it’s a special day like an anniversary or birthday.
  • Plant a tree or place a decoration to enjoy for years to come.
  • Spend time in nature. Birds, rainbows, butterflies or clouds can increase the feeling of connection to your loved ones.
  • Create a scrapbook of memories that are precious to you. Invite others to add their artistic pages as well.
  • Wear a favorite piece of your loved one’s clothing or jewelry, or have it turned into a new creation for you.
  • Volunteer with a cause that has special meaning to your family member.
  • Embrace the giving spirit by making a donation in memory of your special person.

If you experience the positive effects of incorporating healing grief rituals into your life, you may find you want to share some of these activities with other people. Hearing stories of grandparents’ lives is a treasure for grand- and great-grandchildren. Learning about the painting, photograph or quilt created by a relative can help us reconnect with our own talents. Saying or writing “I love you” or “I’m sorry” can strengthen important relationships. The possibilities are nearly endless.

Circle of Lights – A Time to Remember

Circle of Lights will be held on Tuesday, May 23 at Mill Creek Park (47th Street & Mill Creek Parkway in Kansas City, Missouri).  At dusk, hundreds of luminary candles honoring those who are missed will illuminate the fountain and the park. The ceremony will commence at 8 pm. It’s an evening of beauty, community and remembrance in one of the city’s most beloved settings.

You can request a free personalized luminary on our website at kchospice.org/circleoflights or by contacting the Development staff at our main office at 816.363.2600. We also welcome donations in honor of those you wish to be remembered. In addition, you may light a virtual candle honoring your loved one on our website. NOTE: in the event of inclement weather that evening, we will relocate inside Community Christian Church at 4601 Main Street.

In addition to the Circle of Lights event, our partner Kendra Scott is hosting a pre-event reception at their Country Club Plaza location from 5 – 7 pm. There you’ll find two Kansas City Hospice pendants for sale. That day, 20% of proceeds will also benefit Kansas City Hospice if you mention a special code (at the Plaza store and online ). We appreciate their support of our mission.

We would be honored if the Circle of Lights event becomes an annual ritual for you and your family, as it has or so many in our community.

We hope you find comfort in many ways as you continue to remember and cherish those you are missing.

May peace gently descend.