Letting Go On Your Own Terms | Center for Growth Therapy

Letting Go On Your Own Terms

Alex , CAS, MSW, ACSW, LCSW — Founder & executive director

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Grief Therapy in Philadelphia, Mechanicsville, Santa Fe, and Ocean City - Personal honor rituals - Letting Go On Your Own Terms: losing someone you love is heartbreaking. Grieving is a challenge, grieving well is even harder. To grieve ‘well’ is to grieve fully and in a way that promotes the healing process. It is to grieve constructively and not destructively. It is to fully confront your loss and sorrow. It is to let go of the one who has moved on and accept that they are no longer with you in the physical world. Grieving well is truly grieving.

In order to facilitate the cycle and to immerse oneself in the experience of grief, many people choose to partake in personal honor rituals. They may not realize them as such, but the little acts one does to honor the life of the dead and their memory through your own volition are intimate rituals, personally created to acknowledge one’s grief. They are healthy, constructive ways of letting go on your own terms.

Funerals, burials, wakes, memorials, and ceremonies are all rituals meant to honor the deceased and allow the loved ones a final opportunity to say goodbye. However, today these occasions are often thronged with visitors and can feel anything but personal. Occurring soon after the death, they thrust those who are still in shock into a rapid, decisive process that carries out in front of others. Many times, the widowed are expected to ‘host’ family and friends in their home after the ceremonies. It is a time of coming together, of congregating, but is rarely personal or private anymore. Many who have experienced this, look back on the funeral as confusing and exhausting instead of healing.

Whether you lost someone recently or years ago, it is never too late to design your own, personal honor ritual. It is a chance to say goodbye and an opportunity for letting go on your own terms. More than that, it is a time to honor someone’s life and memory as you would truly want to and have a last moment with them ‘alone’. It can bring closure, healing, and peace to a time fraught with emotion.

There are many ways to conduct such a ritual, but the idea is to make it your own so that you indeed are letting go on your terms. How would you like to say goodbye to your loved one? How do you want to remember them? Honor them? Maybe with a song or a prayer? Maybe a letter or a poem? Maybe just a quiet moment together in your mind, at the burial site, or even in a place they frequented while alive like a home or favorite restaurant? You might choose to include someone else close to you and the deceased or not. It’s entirely up to you.

Some may choose to visit the grave and burn a candle while meditating on all the joy that the departed brought them in their life. Others might prefer to visualize the loved one being received by those who have already passed over, and waving a final goodbye. You might write a letter to them, burn it, and sprinkle the ashes in a special place. You may choose a combination of things. It might seem hard, but be creative. Combine effects that have meaning both for you and the departed. Write them out as steps if you need to. Share them with others if it makes you feel better. Find a way to memorialize this moment for yourself. It is a beautiful way to grieve well.


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