Exploring the Power of Rituals


Exploring the Power of Rituals


Rituals surround us. As a family caregiver, your rituals lessen some of your chaos. When I cared for my friend Evie, my morning ritual ensured the rest of our day was as pleasant and as stress-free as possible. She awoke at about 11 a.m.; I assisted her with dressing and a sponge bath; I prepared a three-egg cheese omelet while she watched TV and worked on her needle-point. But, if I deviated from the schedule (and, in Evie's eyes, a morning tub bath was a good example of this), the rest of the day was hell to pay.

Rituals bring us comfort. They take away some of the surprises. They calm us.

Rituals are meant to work with you, to reflect the blessings and joy you currently feel. The power of rituals is their ability to adjust to you. Your memories of the rituals you create today (which may only last for this year) will become gifts you treasure in the future.

Sometimes, if we refuse to change our rituals, we may be choosing to ignore what our life today has become. Forgiveness can help; family caregivers have so many opportunities to hold grudges and to begrudge: the brother who doesn't help, the doctor who doesn't listen, the care recipient who doesn't appreciate, the illness that won't give up. Forgiving these persons and these events for the pain and heartache they have caused may help lessen your burden and open you up to the rituals that bless and comfort.

A fun time to review, renew or revitalize your rituals is at the start of a new month, a new year, a new season. Some questions to consider to help you refresh and recreate your rituals:

1. What are the current rituals in your life? Consider those present on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis.

2. Review these rituals. Which truly reflect where you are in your life today? Which are no longer part of your life today? Which rituals do you want to keep? Which would you like to eliminate?

3. Consider your goals for the next year. What rituals would you like to add which will help you meet these goals?

4. Rewrite your list of rituals. Then, implement them!

Consider completing this exercise with (or for) your care recipient. Do you have any similar or shared rituals? What can you learn by comparing your list of rituals?

Please share which rituals work best for you. We'd love to know!