Rituals vs. Ceremonies

Regardless of upbringing, it’s likely you’ve participated in a variety of rituals and ceremonies throughout your lifetime. Though the terms are often confused or used interchangeably, their differences are important to understand.

Think of a ceremony as an event performed in honor of something special, like a birthday party or wedding. A ritual, meanwhile, is an action or group of actions: like singing the happy birthday song, blowing out candles, and eating cake.

You may ritualize the end of the workweek by ordering pizza every Friday night. Or you might, at bedtime, repeat the same prayer before you get into bed.

Rituals Honor our Transitions

Rituals don’t have to be part of a ceremony, but most ceremonies include rituals. For example, when people get married, the wedding is the ceremony, while the exchange of rings are the ritual.

Although they aren’t exclusive to practices of faith or religious experiences, many of these events are spiritual experiences. Spiritual is a ritual of the spirit. Rituals can serve as powerful healing aids, whether they take the form of a religious baptism, prayer with your higher power, or a daily soak in your bathtub.

Rituals are tools that help us to organize, acknowledge, and honor our transitions. With effort, intention, and a little imagination, constructing your own ceremony with rituals can help you to reconcile your reality and build a bridge to recovery in the process.

Rituals Help in Grief Recovery

I built my bridge in the most unlikely of ways. Its planks are made of a variety of experiences—from violent vomiting in the jungle to songs on the shore of a small local lake, with a thousand bathtub prayers in between.

This building isn’t a fast process, so begin when you are ready and proceed at your own pace. The goal is to reconcile your reality for as long as you need to, in as many ways as you need to, however you need to. Eventually, you’ll find yourself moving closer to recovery, and one ceremonial plank at time, you will have built a sturdy bridge.

Excerpted from Soulbroken by Stephanie Sarazin. Copyright © 2022 by Stephanie Sarazin. Reprinted with permission of Balance Publishing. All rights reserved.

Purchase Stephanie’s book: Soulbroken: A Guidebook for Your Journey Through Ambiguous Grief: Sarazin, Stephanie: 9781538709757: Amazon.com: Books

Stephanie Sarazin

About Stephanie Sarazin, a writer, an accidental grief researcher, a TEDx Curator, and ultimately an experiential expert in ambiguous grief. Learn more about her book, SOULBROKEN, at https://stephaniesarazin.com/.

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