So many holidays occur in December, with the world seemingly filled with jolly people, all jostling about, celebrating. If you are grieving, it can be a painful juxtaposition where you want to remain inward, alone with your pain. The Winter Solstice, while a celebration of the days getting longer in the Northern Hemisphere, can be a time to sit with that grief and begin to heal.
Grief can come in all forms: mourning a loss or a friend or family member, mourning the end of relationships, the end of the year where nothing went the way you had hoped or planned. Rather than forcing yourself to be cheerful, acknowledge your grieving and use the Winter Solstice to help process your loss. Performing rituals for grief can help us process and move the pain towards a lighter feeling, even if only for a few moments.
Below is a ritual you can perform during the Winter Solstice. It can be performed solitary, or with a close friend or loved one.
Winter Solstice Grieving Ritual
Create an altar space. on the altar, place photos or momentoes. Write up the loss you are facing. Make a collage of your grief, including photos, words, poetry, drawings. Be as creative as possible in acknowledging that which you are grieving.
Include the four elements (example bel0w)
Feather/Incense for Air
Rock/Momento for Earth
Candle for Fire
A cup of water/favorite beverage for Water
Call upon the elements, your deities, your guardians and ancestors, and the four directions to watch over you as you perform this ritual.
It may help to have your space lit only by candles, but make sure you are in a comfortable space, wearing clothes that are comforting and non-restrictive.
Say out loud all that you are grieving. Whether it be memories of a person, disappointment with what has not happened or will not be, the loss you are feeling, the grief that flows through you, the end of a relationship, let your words be your manifesto. State how your grief feels, and let it be released into the world. If you have your words written upon paper, when done, tear up the paper into strips. If spoken from the heart, have a branch or stick to symbolize the brokenness. Break the stick, crumble the paper, take your fist and gently beat your heart area to symbolize your grief.
Once that is performed, note your breath. Take several deep breaths, to the count of four. Breath in for a count of four, hold your breath to a count of four, and release to a count of four.
At this point, listen to some soothing music. Meditate on a light growing in the darkness, as the light returns to the earth and the days grow longer. Picture yourself in a peaceful place, one where you have happy memories. Let that wash over you for a few moments.
Stand up and stretch. Acknowledge your body from the top of your head to your feet, feeling every part of you awaken.
Place your hands upon your heart and feel it beating.
At that moment, state out loud a few things you are grateful for: it can be as simple as thankfulness for the moment, the memories, the good in your life.
Release your guardians, the elements and the deities with thanks.
If you are able to go outside (of if you are outside already for this ritual) pour the liquid out onto the ground, blow out the candle, and hold the rock/earth element close to your heart. At this point, if you would like to burn any papers or momentoes, do so. Burning what is left is the final symbol of releasing, so as you do so. gaze into the flames and blow out any remaining grief or feelings you want to process.
Have a comforting drink and meal if you are hungry. Take a soothing bath. Listen to your favorite music, or watch your favorite comfort movie. Take this time for self-care, and truly nurture yourself.
Slip a bit of mugwort into your pillow if you have some available. Journal either before or after bedtime, to record your ritual, your process, and your emotions.
May your grieving wash through you like rain, moving you towards new growth, as the light returns us to longer days. All hail the travelers, may those you mourn have their memory be a blessing. What is no longer can make way for the new. Blessed Be, and may your ritual help with healing.