A Candle Ritual During Times of Grief and Loss
June 04, 2023

A Candle Ritual During Times of Grief and Loss

A Candle Ritual During Times of Grief and Loss:

Generally, we humans like things to stay the same, and it’s never more disruptive, more uncomfortable, and darn right terrifying than the death of someone you love. It’s one of those times when the ground beneath your feet cracks and opens to a canyon so deep that you can feel the cold air from its depths, and you wish you could take back your secret prayers and calls for change and run towards the fragments that once were…only to discover that it's not there anymore. 

In these times of grief and loss, candle rituals can become a much-needed companion, and they need not be complicated or necessarily bound by tradition. They can be as simple as lighting a candle and sparing a moment or two in contemplation for the one who has passed, a few snippets of grace and remembrance said before a meal, or when we lift our faces to the sunrise at the break of dawn and give gratitude for the knowing. Often these everyday rituals cannot be fully captured by words. They are inadequate to describe the turbulence or totality of the experience. Yet, they can bring a small amount of predictability to an uncertain future and even provide a buffer against the dark chasm that seeks to pull us in. They give us a way to ground our yearnings and our sorrows into concrete activities.

Driven by the element of fire, candles lift rituals, and this ritual is adapted from the work of bereavement educators Darcie Sims and Sherry Williams. You can perform this ritual by yourself or with friends or family. 

The candle ritual for grief and loss:

Place five candles in a circle of family and friends, at a table, or wherever you want to honour your loved one. 

Take a few moments to close your eyes and settle into your body. Take as long as you need. Playing a song can often support your body and breath to calm. 

When you are ready, a person starts the circle by lighting the first candle, followed by slowly reading the verse below:

As we light these candles in memory of and in honour of you, we light one for our grief, one for our courage, one for our memories, one for our love, and one for our hope.

This first candle represents our grief. The pain of losing you is intense. It reminds us of the depth of our love for you.

The following person lights the next candle and slowly reads the verse:

This candle represents our courage – to confront our sorrow, to comfort each other, and to change our lives.

The following person lights the next candle and slowly reads the verse:

This candle is in your memory – the times we laughed, the times we cried, the times we were angry with each other, the silly things you did, and the caring and joy you gave to us.

The following person lights the next candle and slowly reads the verse:

This candle is the light of love. As we enter this season, day by day, we cherish the special place in our hearts that will always be reserved for you. We thank you for the gift your living brought to each of us.

The following person lights the next candle and slowly reads the verse:

And this candle is the light of hope. It reminds us of the love and the memories of you that are ours forever. May the glow of the flame be our source of hopefulness now and forever. We love you.

If you are performing this ritual on your own, take your time and slowly read the verses, and light candles yourself. After the verses are read, it’s time to move into reflection, remembrance, sharing of a meal, a cup of tea, or simply moving into silence and stillness. 

Remember, contrary to our long-held assumptions, there are no rules to grief, no stages except our personal journeys, and no tasks to do except those we set ourselves. Grief lasts as long as it lasts, and everyone will grieve differently. Some people will want to talk. Some will not. Normality is not what we return to but what we go through. With this in mind, let's light a candle for living unapologetically from our hearts, allowing all our emotions of grief and loss to move in ways we need them to for as long as they are there. 

We have a number of candle options for this ritual:

Box of 6 taper candles here

Box for small pillar candles here

Small birthday size candles are here.

Have you read our blog called "Candles in times of grief", this is found here.