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Creating Grief Kits for Times of Physical Distancing.

Paper bag, candle, matches, stone, seed paper and a sympathy card

In a time of physical distancing, how might we respond to deaths that cannot yet be marked by gathering in person? 

You may want to create Grief Kits that can be delivered to the backdoors or porches of congregants.

Our Grief Kits are paper bags containing:

  • a candle
  • matches
  • seed paper with planting instructions
  • a Joy and Concern stone (a ritual at the Fellowship I serve)
  • a sympathy card.
  • a copy of a poem (We include In Blackwater Woods by Mary Oliver which is often part of our memorial services)
  • a copy of the ritual described below
  • a copy of the This Home is in Mourning sign

A Simple Death Ritual

  • Gather some items that remind you of your Loved One who died. Make an elaborately decorated altar that can stay set up, or collect a few meaningful things. If other people are present, invite them to participate.
  • Add the contents of the Grief Kit from Rev. Leah and the Fellowship.
  • Take a few deep centering breaths.
  • Light the grief candle.
  • Share a few memories or stories about your Loved One. Do it out loud, even if you are alone.
  • Hold the butterfly-shaped piece of seed paper in your hand. If there are others present, you can pass it around so everyone gets to touch it. You might want to write your Loved One’s name on it, or write a word or phrase of blessing in their honor, or a quality for which they will be especially remembered. Or you can just plant it blank, either at a later time or as a part of this ritual.
  • Place the Stone of Joy and Concern in your home chalice, or some other meaningful place.
  • Read aloud In Blackwater Woods by Mary Oliver.
  • Take a few deep centering breaths.
  • Let the grief candle burn itself out, which will take about 10 hours (unless it is safer to extinguish it).
  • You might also choose to hang the This Home is in Mourning sign in a window that is visible to the greater community.

About the Author

Leah Ongiri

Rev. Leah Ongiri (previously Hart-Landsberg) is the associate minister at the Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Appleton, Wisconsin, where she has served since 2012. Originally from Portland, Oregon, she grew up in a Jewish and Unitarian Universalist family. She has been a child,...

For more information contact conglife@uua.org.