Grief as a Mystical Journey®

Sample Rituals and Ceremonies


For memorial services, meditations,
or simply honoring the sacredness of loss and transition

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This can be done alone or in a group (this particular form is for a group).
Ideally outdoors in a beautiful natural setting. Feel free to improvise or modify as you see fit.


1. Pass a basket of rose petals around to the group members. Ask each person to choose three petals.


2. Each person will breathe in the scent of each petal, one by one, and then blow deeply into each petal, as follows (verbally guided by the facilitator):

. Into the first petal, blow in your pain, anger or sadness. The energies you wish to release.

. Into the second petal, blow in your love; your fond memories of the departed, or your intentions for healing.

. Into the third petal, blow any message you want to send to the departed, or blessings for their journey.


3. Bury the petals in the earth (or throw them into a river or stream if available) while continuing to breathe deeply and asking your guides to help open your heart as you move toward healing and restoration.


4. If there are petals or intact roses remaining, throw them into the river as well, or arrange them on top of the place where the petals are buried, as an altar to your healing. Over time, the  sun, wind and rain will break down the roses and carry your prayers and your energy to the elements.


This ceremony was originally created for a Memorial Day event to acknowledge the grief and suffering of those affected by war and violence.
​But it can be adapted for any purpose you wish.

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1. Find a rose and take it into your back yard (or anywhere out in nature).


2. Remove three petals from the rose. Each petal represents one of the following:

. The life of someone who had died or suffered in war, and the grief of their loved ones
. The suffering of all people and animals who have been affected by war
. A prayer for peace


3. Hold the petals in your hands and blow into them three times. Let the grief, the trauma, the horrifying images of war and the intention for healing flow through your breath into the petals.


4. While saying a prayer for peace and unity, bury the petals in the earth. The earth -– which has also been wounded by war -– is strong enough to hold that energy for us. The earth will turn the energy of our pain, our grief and our hope into “spiritual compost” for healing.


5. Place the remaining rose on top of the place where the petals are buried, and dedicate it to humanity’s hope for harmony. Sit in silent meditation for as long as you’re comfortable before departing.


Creating an Earth-Healing Despacho  


1. Place a map of the world on the floor in front of you.


2. After blowing into the three rose petals, place them on top of the map, along with other natural elements that you've gathered,such as seeds, leaves, flowers, stones or herbs.


3. Place these items on the map,and arrange them around the areas of the world in most need of healing (Israel, Washington DC, Syria, etc).


4. Wrap the map and the elements into a sacred bundle, bless it with your prayers, and release it to the spiritual realm by burning it your fireplace or outdoor fire pit. You can also send the bundle down a river or bury it in the earth.

Life Honoring for Elders

This ceremony was created specifically for hospice patients in assisted living facilities,
but can be done for older individuals or groups of any kind.


1. If possible, acquire information on each of the participating elders about what they are most proud of in their lives (careers, families, academic accomplishments, creative work, etc).


2. In the ceremony, with the elders (and their families) gathered, read off the names of each elder and his/her accomplishment, for example, "We honor Jane Doe for her outstanding career as a professor,"  or "We honor John Doe for his distinguished miltary career."


3. When each name is read, the person is given a "sacred bundle," such as the  little mesh bag with a stone pictured here.


4. When everybody is seated with their bundles, instruct them to hold the bundle to their heart and breathe into it all their fond memories, feelings of pride about their accomplishments, sense of peace about end-of-life, and the legacies they want to leave behind.


5. They will keep the bundle with them and hold it to their hearts anytime they are experiencing strong emotions (concerns about death, feelings of loss, etc), and let it give them comfort about having a life well-lived.


6. When the person dies, the bundle is given to their family.

A Living Wake

For someone who is facing imminent death, a "living wake: is an opportunity for loved ones
to memorialize the dying personwhile they are still here to participate in the event.



In this example, the honoree -- I will call her ML -- was scheduled to utilize physician-assisted death the following day. With the help of her friends and family, she planned a "going away party" at the assisted living facility where she lived. In the ceremony I created for this event, each friend took a length of rainbow ribbon, and one-by-one tied their ribbon around her wrist as they spoke their words of love, blessings and farewell.


After all had tied their ribbons, each person then tied another ribbon around the wrist of the person sitting next to them, to create a bond of love throughout the group. The ribbons stayed on ML's arms through her death and her cremation, carrying the blessings with her to the next world. Each of us wore our own ribbons until they eventually fell off or disintegrated, reminding us of the nature of impermanence and our capacity for letting go.

End-of-Life Honoring

Similar to the ceremony described above, Alice developed multiple sclerosis in her early 40s. When I met her, she was 55, and had been completely paralyzed for several years. A few years after we met, as her body began shutting down and she began making plans for her death, she asked me to help her create a “letting go” ceremony to help her release her earthy attachments. She had planned her funeral and her cremation, said goodbye to her loved ones, and had a date scheduled to use the assisted death program in her state. But she felt something holding her back.

People were visiting during her last days, and she tried hard to interact and converse with them, even though it was painful and difficult. All she really wanted to do was gently slip away, but she felt anxious about her emotional bonds and perceived obligations to the people in her life. She was ready to go, but did not want to carry that anxiety with her. She also worried about the grief her adult children would experience after her exit, and her sadness about leaving them.
Alice had been an award-winning horsewoman in her youth, and loved all things equestrian. Together (via Skype, because she was in another state), she and I created the following “Loosening the Ropes” ceremony, which she performed with the help of her caregiver:
A table was placed in the middle of the room to serve as an altar. Photos of loved ones, symbols of Alice’s accomplishments (equestrian awards, academic diplomas, favorite objects and other items representing her ties to earth) were placed on the altar.
On the floor around the altar, her caregiver placed a length of “ranch rope” (the kind used for horses), laid out in a circle around the altar, like a lasso, to symbolize reining in and holding the objects on the altar.
The end of the rope extended beyond the circle to Alice’s bed, where it was tied around her wrist. She could keep it tied there as long as she wished, to represent her sense of being “tied” to physical life. When she felt ready, she would ask her caregiver to cut it for her. It was a symbolic umbilical cord; just as it was cut when she came into this world, she could now cut it when she felt ready to be born into the next one.