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The Power of Rituals

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Over the past several months, I’ve seen several tweets from people who have created small ceremonies to help deal with hurt and loss. 

One, by a physician, described how, after a patient dies, she pauses for a moment to think about that individual, and then writes up the death certificate as neatly as she can. 

Another woman shared how she planned to honour the memory of a friend who had died, by quietly toasting her on the friend’s birthday, with her friend’s favourite beverage.

When I started doing background research for a story on how rituals can play a role in maintaining our mental health, I came across a fascinating excerpt from a book called Life Is in the Transitions: Mastering Change at Any Age (Penguin Press, 2020)

Thankfully, the author, Bruce Feiler, was happy to speak with me for the piece. I really wish I could have written another separate article recounting the entire back story of some of the momentous changes that have occurred in his life over the years, and how the ideas in the book evolved. 

But marking a new chapter in life is just one of the many ways in which we humans use rituals.  You can read what six experts have to say on the subject in my latest wellbeing Good Times wellbeing feature: ‘The Power of Ritual’.

A big thank-you to the generous interviewees:

  • Melanie Badali, PhD, a registered psychologist at the North Shore Stress & Anxiety Clinic in Vancouver.
  • Bruce Feiler, author of the New York Times bestseller ‘This Life’ and the book Life Is in the Transitions: Mastering Change at Any Age.
  • Stephen Fleming, PhD, a psychologist with FVB Psychologists in Mississauga, Ont.
  • Erin Kinsella, formerly director of campus ministry at Newman Centre Catholic Mission in Toronto.
  • Anne Rosenberg, a social worker, freelance journalist, Guided Autobiography (GAB) instructor in Vancouver.
  • Andrew Sofin, a psychotherapist in private practice in Montreal, and president of the Canadian Association for Marriage and Family Therapists.


Image by _Alicja_ from Pixabay