The ritual happened today, between rain drops and storms. Since the ground was so wet, it took no time at all to dig a hole about two feet long and one foot wide.
And deep enough to hold a precious being.
Death and Ritual and Story and Journeys
My mind has been filled with stories about what I should do, how I should do it. Why is my witch brain so confused when I’ve done this before. I’ve looked death in the eye and I’ve faced this place.
But grief is contractions. It’s the pushing out of memory after memory like it’s some sort of act of resuscitation for the dead. As though if we just think about the dead enough, they will come back. We will love them back into living.
Wave after wave.
So I took a breath and went back to my body, to the places where tears are made and hearts beat quicker than moments before.
I held his body and walked around the house, trying to memorize his weight. I told the story of our life together, about how much he helped me and loved me and blessed me.
I placed his body in all of the parts of the house he loved.
I gathered all of the things that our little one might want on their journey.
- Letters from his ‘parents’
- Chicken pieces (shredded not cut)
- A feather
- Lavender for calming
- Herbs for remembering and dreaming kitty dreams
And we read our letters to him, over his cold body. We petted him and told him how much we loved him.
We remembered all of his names. The ones others knew, the ones no one else knew.
We burned herbs and cried.
We wished him well on his journey.
We wished him great big hugs from the cat mama in the sky.
We put the lid back over him and placed him in the ground.
Goodbye sweet one, baby boy. Precious.
And while my heart still aches with the kind of longing that seems melodramatic and made for a TV movie, this is the ritual that is needed. This is the ritual I never wanted.
Ritual enables context and space for my grief. It offers the moments that have been taken away from me — last words, last gratitudes, last snuggles — and gives them back to put in my pocket.
And simple rituals fill me. They remind me that I’m not alone, that by moving through the mysterious spaces with intention and grace, I can come out on the other side.
The more sense I need to make of the world, the more I turn to ritual. In those moments where I say, I’M FINE REALLY I’M FINE.
I need to move through the space of story. Go back to the beginning. Feel it, say it, know. I need to move to the place of where I am now.
And then widen my heart enough to the next moment. Because it’s all a circle, a cycle, a stretch of path that reaches further and further out beyond my knowing.
I wish there was a neat way to end this. But really, there isn’t.