Rituals of Comfort

Our life is full of ritual. 

Rituals are everywhere in our life – from the simple things of our daily routine of when we get up in the morning and the changing of seasons to the larger events of graduation, marriage and even death.  Without ritual, we feel lost. Without ritual, it is almost as if something didn’t happen.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the rituals in my life over the past few days as over the past week there have been many events which were symbolic. I will admit that at one point there was a part of me that just wanted to pack my things up and leave hospice. I just wanted to sneak out of the door and be done. I believe this is partly due to the fact I have reached a state of emotional exhaustion and just didn’t want to think about anything which had the potential to be emotional. 

Thankfully, I worked with wonderful women who did want to help me mark this event in my life. Last week there were several events which helped to create ritual. As I mentioned in a previous post, I was not the only counselor leaving the office this week. Our coworker wanted to help us create something symbolic of what we are taking with us from hospice. She cut out leaves from scrapbook paper and had each of us create a flower from these leaves. On each leaf, we wrote and created what we are taking with us.

These are photographs of each of our completed flowers.  

The cool thing is that they fold up and we can pull them out as we want. This gave me some time to think about the work I have done as a grief counselor. I did not start off my career as a social worker intending to do clinical work. My emphasis was on policy/administration and program development in graduate school. My career at Hospice helped me to develop skills I never considered. I became an LCSW because of the opportunity provided to me by the agency. I leave a skilled clinician.

My coworker and I also created a flower of what we were leaving behind. I meant to take a picture of it but I forgot. As I think about it, perhaps it is  a good thing that I didn’t. After all, we left it behind. 

After a week of packing up boxes, I was able to have lunch with several significant people I work with on Thursday and on Friday night, many of us went to a new restaurant in town. Coba Cocina has a great atmosphere and one of the largest jelly fish tanks in the country. 
This was not a sad time but simply one where we had fun and got to enjoy being with each other.

I think the sad thing is we are often so busy that we don’t make time to do things like go out to dinner. It’s only when there is a reason to do so-  such as someone leaving that we make the time.  I know for myself that over the past 4 months , I’ve been too exhausted to do much with anyone and have turned down lunch, dinner and coffee with friends. As I regain my energy, mark this as one of the things I plan to make time for – actually, it is one of the things I MUST make time for.

Here’s a great picture of everyone. I wasn’t fortunate enough to have biological sisters but I feel like I’ve been blessed to have made friends with women who have become sisters. 

All of these rituals have been beneficial. It helped to mark this time in my life. After all, almost 12 years is a long time (but it really felt like a blink of an eye). I also realize that as much as I needed the symbolism and closure, the coworkers that I will no longer be working with also needed a ritual to mark the change. 

Rituals of life exist to mark moments. 


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