Note: Rev. Mary Gear created this ritual to honor losses endured during the Covid pandemic. You are free to adapt it for other uses. Rev. Gear has offered this ritual within the context of a larger service, so below you'll find her words of welcome, the ritual, a releasing (which might be done in person), a prayer, and a closing/chalice extinguishing. As indicated in the ritual, it's recommended that you gather names in advance in a way that works for you and your community.
Welcome. We gather in grief and in gratitude: grief for all the losses we have experienced these past months of the pandemic—people, pets, places, and so much more; gratitude for community and for this time to be together.
Thank you all for offering the gift of your presence. It matters that you are here. May this be a time and a place for each one of us to experience the spirit of love and healing.
Naming Those Who Are Gone
Part of the process of grief is to acknowledge and name what has been lost. This has been a year of much stress and loss. Let us take a moment to recognize the enormity of this pandemic’s impact on each of us; on those we love; on everyone.
Take a breath…..and take just a moment now to acknowledge the impact on you and those you love. (pause)
We now name those lost in the past months in our congregational community:
These are the people, pets, and places you have named today:
(read lists collected from those attending in advance)
We also hold space for any names you wish to add. You may whisper them, say them, or shout them out loud. Or you may hold them in the silence of your heart.
In this silence we hear the names—all the names. And we know that held within each name is a story. May we know that the infinite web of life and love holds us all and holds all the stories. Its strands connect us to our ancestors, to each other, and to our future. May we know that what we have lost is with us still. The lives of those lost hold us steady. Their words call us back to ourselves. Their courage and love evoke our own. May we know that we, the living, take them with us, and may we choose the deeper path of living. Amen.
As we hold our memories in our hearts, may we honor all that we have lost and let go of.
Acknowledging that all we have lost lives on in our memories and hearts, we release them into the care of the infinite web, the mystery, the ever-flowing river of life. [If applicable:] I invite you to come forward to place in the container what you have offered to be burned. It may be an item or something that you have written on a piece of paper, wanting to release it. Or you may wish it to be remembered as its ashes are scattered on the Earth. I will burn these items when and where it is safe to do so and scatter the ashes in the Memorial Garden here on this sacred ground.
If you need them, paper and pencils are on the back tables.
What is it you wish to release into the care of the Infinite?
Please come forward now and place it here.
(music while people come forward)
Please join me in the spirit of prayer.
Spirit of Love and Life, Great Mystery.
We gather today in grief and in gratitude.
May we know that the grief comes and goes. May we hold fast to the gratitude.
May we know that the mystery is unknowable. May we hold fast to each other.
May we know that what is physical comes and goes. May we hold fast to the love that never dies.
As we release what we have lost into the care of the Eternal, may we hold fast to the stories, the love and the light that remains.
Short musical interlude
As this time comes to a close, we extinguish our chalice. May we remember that Love never dies; it lives on through us-in our hearts and in our hands. It was here before us and will be here long after we are done. It is reborn again and again.
May we be born again. May we remember love. May we be in peace. Amen and Blessed Be.