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Personal grief rituals

Personal grief rituals are those loving activities that help us remember our loved ones and give us a sense of connectedness, healing, and peace.  

Martin Connah and his memorial ring
“This is the memorial ring I had made so I can have Linda’s ashes with me as I venture forward. It took me a long time to decide… silver and blue, as Linda loved silver jewellery and blue,” says Martin Connah

Creating and practising personal grief rituals can also help us release painful situations and unpleasant memories, freeing us to make our memories a positive influence in our lives.

What follows are just a few examples of personal grief rituals. The ideas are as unique and as varied as the people who invented them. Think of ways that you can adapt them and make them your own. You are limited only by your own imagination.  

  • If you’re a writer, write – it could be an article, an anecdote, a story, a poem, a song, a letter, an obituary or a eulogy. If you don’t want to write for someone else, keep a private journal and write about your feelings as you journey through your grief.  
  • Buy a very special candle, decorate it and light it in honour of your loved one.  
  • Purchase a book — perhaps a children’s book — on coping with the loss of a loved one and donate it to your local library or school. Place a label inside the front cover inscribed with “In memory of [your loved one’s name]”.  
  • Plant a tree, bush, shrub, garden or flower bed as a permanent growing memorial to your beloved. Mark the site with a memorial plaque, marker, bench or statue.  
  • Memorialise your beloved in cyberspace by lighting a virtual candle online at Light a Candle 
  • Write a special note, letter, poem, wish or prayer to your beloved, go outside, attach the paper to a balloon and let it go. Or place the note in a vessel and burn it, and watch the smoke rise heavenward. If you are harbouring bad feelings or regrets, gather symbols to represent those hurtful or painful situations, events, or feelings from your past, place them in a container and hold a private burial or burning ceremony, saying goodbye and releasing them as you do so.  
  • Ask relatives, friends, co-workers and neighbours to gather their contributions, and put together a scrapbook or box of memories containing mementos, letters, and photographs of your loved one.  
  • Celebrate the life of your loved one by continuing favourite traditions or eating favourite foods.  
  • Select a Valentine card that you wish your beloved would have picked for you and mail it to yourself.  
  • Give yourself a gift from your loved one – something that you always wished he or she would have given you, and think of your beloved whenever you use it or wear it. 

Last updated on June 8th, 2022

Developed by the Leukaemia Foundation in consultation with people living with a blood cancer, Leukaemia Foundation support staff, haematology nursing staff and/or Australian clinical haematologists. This content is provided for information purposes only and we urge you to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis, treatment and answers to your medical questions, including the suitability of a particular therapy, service, product or treatment in your circumstances. The Leukaemia Foundation shall not bear any liability for any person relying on the materials contained on this website.