Friday, September 10, 2021

Rituals and Tradition


Writing this piece today, I feel somewhat self-indulgent, in world still reeling from the recent horror in Afghanistan and the on-going mortality and loss of this awful pandemic - my own recent distress and grief following the death of my eldest sister, seems to pale.  However, I feel moved to connect through my writing and no matter how small in this universe, there is always something to be shared and gained even through life's every-day small yet big events.  

It is accepted that the experience of grief is unique to the individual. While being a journey that many know and may share at the same time, how we travel and navigate the loss of those we love can be as different as night and day. In my culture (and many others), we have rituals and traditions that support the journey of grief. The rituals and the traditions we pass down through the generations help us express and  accept what has happened. Through the loss, there is much to be gained, much to share, much to let go of.

I made it across the ditch for some of my sister's tangihanga (funeral ceremonies) just before the recent Victorian lockdown that we are still in. While not physically present for her actual funeral service, burial, and the Maori ceremonies for those rituals (though there, on zoom), I did have 3 special days with her in Wanaka  immediately following her death.

What I write or feel today, barely touches the surface of what happened, or the ground beneath.  The connections made through the sharp and raw pain, following the loss of our family matriarch, our tuahine (sister) and the value of sharing that with others is powerful and restorative. 

I look forward to a process that helps me order the words I have created from those shared experiences, into stories and prose about my sister's life, her death, and how I travel the road ahead without her love. For the moment, much of what I write is still disordered or only forming and I know this is part of the journey.

Having said that, what brings me to the page today, is the need to acknowledge and unpack the healing from death, that comes through expression, ritual, ceremony, tradition and sharing. So many ways to do this. So many methods and mediums. No one right way, but a multitude.  And the rituals and ceremonies I have learned and practised through my life, will endure. That they have been passed down beautifully, lovingly, with care and respect, through the generations, is true and real, and will continue.

So, as I sit now, still with so much life of my own to live, while holding the experience that my dearest sister's is no longer, I of course ponder my own ending. That too is part of the journey. 


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