Grief was a constant friend for many years.

At first I hated her, she tortured me daily, nightly, without rest. I couldn’t believe how fierce she was.

To live I had to develop coping skills to survive… or die also! For years I worked many, many levels of healing and developed many tools for coping with, and surviving, grief.

IF YOU ARE IN GRIEF… try whatever form below resonates with you!  We ALL heal differently and you must honor what works FOR YOU.


Below you will find suggestions for acute grief, anniversaries and ongoing grief.

Additionally you will find a closure ritual for use when you know it is time for the grieving and bereavement to ease.

Below that there is a grief recording, words of healing to move through grief.

And lastly there is a video of a dance I choreographed that embodies grief, a visual and visceral experience to help heal the grief.

I have gathered these tools because grief hurts to the core of our being, and we all need help when we grieve.  Use the these tools as they serve your needs, in good health.  My heart is with you.


Build an alter -a space where you can go to grieve your loss. Put items there that help you to feel the grief. Then give yourself permission to visit the alter to grieve whenever you need to. And to be able to function in the world… leave your grief there when you walk away. It will be safe and you can return to it anytime.

See directions below for building a grief altar.

Scents are important emotional connectors.
Is there a scent associated with your grief such as the beloveds perfume?
If not, it would be good to choose two essential oils to keep on the alter, one to open the grief when you first sit down, and one to close it when you are preparing to leave the altar. Carry with you a sample of the oil that helps you close the grief so when you need to focus you can sniff the scent that reminds your mind to contain the grief to the altar. That way you develop control of the grieving, the grief will not interrupt. It can wait because it has a place where it is allowed to be.  Choose the oils intuitively. Drop into your palms and rub and inhale… anoint your feet, rub on your chest over your heart… Here is a link to great info on how essential oils can help emotional healing:…/emotional-healing-with-doterra.…


As time passes, replace items in your alter with things you love about life, and surround the images of your loss with lots and lots of love. And oils that inspire your love!

When you are ready, and have not needed to visit the grief alter in some time,begin to pack the things on the alter into a sacred box or container of some sort… one that you can bring out and visit whenever you wish.


Expect that grief does not end. Know that there will be difficult times. Grief is difficult because we loved so deeply. Grief is good, is important, and is a valuable part of life. Make time on important days to honor your grief. Bring out your box, make a toast, burn a candle… whatever. Use the oil to open the grief, and the oil to close the grief, from the early days of your grief rituals.


Though grief does not end, we become stronger if we walk through the grief and process the emotions. If not… grief can destroy us -cause us to have unhealthy behaviors, become bitter people, etc. So processing it is important. If the grief haunts you, then when you are ready for that to end, create a closure ceremony. Like a FUNERAL RITUAL (see below). Actually take the actions and hold a funeral, even if only you attend it. Bring items that will assist you to release the grief and move to a place of feeling the love… even when crying of the loss -it is love you feel.

There is a great oil blend, doTerra’s “Immortelle” that is the highest vibrational blend of oils on the planet. Great for raising your spiritual connection to a balanced point!

CLOSURE RITE (a personal funeral)

Do this when you are ready to let the grief go. To release their energies that you and they might move on.
It can be important you create your own ritual, but feel free to use mine if it works for you.


  • Photos of the loss (including a favorite “memorial” photo, life size face for example),
    Be sure to print copies because these will be burned.
  • Tobacco,
  • Whisky (or a ceremonial drink of your choosing),
  • A ceremonial knife,
  • A deer antler,
  • an essential oil that represents closure and being here now (try cilantro or one of your choice)
  • A lighter and
  • A burn box (a safe way to work with fire).

Go to an open space where you are in nature and fire is safe. Choose the time of day that most opens your heart. Choose a symbolic day; an anniversary, birthday, special day of any sort.  For me I love to do this on the full moon.

Call in the seven directions with your intentions.

Place tobacco on the Earth, connecting with her spirit.

Pierce the earth with the ceremonial blade thanking Mother Earth for her gifts.

With the deer antlers dig deeper, calling in the deer medicine of love and gentleness.

In the burn box, one at a time, burn the photos, speaking the words that each photo represents and what you are grateful for (the love, etc) and what you are releasing (anger for dying, whatever). Save the memorial photo for last. Pause before the last photo, speak all that wants to come out. Set the last photo, the life-size face for example, on the embers and watch the embers take him/her/it back to home/spirit/ashes/dust/nothingness/heavens (however you think of it)… Allow that memory of the embers transforming the memorial photo into ashes, and hold that memory as the last image. Releasing their energy that they, and you, might move on.

Poor the embers of each photo into the hole you dug.
Speak your feelings out loud as you bury the embers. Then sprinkle tobacco on top, thanking the earth for holding these things for us. Then toast and drink your sacred drink and you pray for the future. If it feels appropriate, serve some onto the “grave” by pouring or spitting it from your mouth. Speak your final words.

Anoint yourself by touching essential oil to your third eye and heart.  Though many oils can be useful in this ritual, Cilantro oil invites us to live true to ourselves in the present. “Cilantro has powerful emotional-cleansing properties, which assist us in the process of “releasing.” It also assists us in shedding whatever is not in harmony with the True Self. By releasing what is incongruent, Cilantro encourages us to listen and follow our inner guidance.”

Close the seven directions, thanking them and if you wish speaking for them to “stay if you will, leave if you must”.  Notice your emotions as the funeral ends and you procession away (even if it is a procession of just you).

If the grief comes to you again in the future, recall the image you saw of the embers taking “home”/transforming the image… committing this to memory as the symbol of your closure will bring back the feeling of closure every time you imagine it.  Again re-anoint yourself with the oil you chose and the smell will help to remind the mind that you have created closure for this.

ALL OF THIS speaks the language of the subconscious… where healing and illness are both born.

AHO my lovely tribe!!!!

Consider building a Grief Altar...

What is a Grief Altar?

A Grief Altar is way to help you begin to control the grieving process.  It is a place where you put particular items that remind you of the reason you grieve.

It is important to honor the grief.  Give it a space and give it as much time as it needs each day.  If you honor it fully, it will need less and less as time goes on.


How do you Build one?

Photos, mementos, clothes, jewelry, scents, anything that reminds you of the sorrow that you hold in your heart.  Make the altar perfect for YOU.  Usually a quiet area, private, with items arranged beautifully… but anything can be your altar! What evokes YOUR grief? It is great if it includes a comfortable place for you to sit or rest.


How is it effective with grief?

A Grief Altar speaks to your subconscious.  
As you continue to make the altar your place to grieve, grief will no longer sneak up on you in unexpected ways.  Your subconscious will begin to understand THIS is the place where we grieve.  And soon you will be able to choose when and where you grieve, without repressing the grief.

What do you DO with it?

At this altar you give yourself permission to grieve fully.  Spend time there as much as you can. Really indulge in the grieving process when you are at this altar, and when grief starts to arise GO to the altar.

Grief Ritual

I created this grief ritual for a friend who wanted to honor her grief in a dance.  Ayah danced this piece, and as she danced she healed, and those who watched her also healed.  Dance is a powerful medium.

For the Grief Ritual, begin lying on the ground and allow your body to respond as you hear the words of this recording. Maybe you will dance, maybe you won’t move at all.  Just BE with the grief.

I hope this is of service to you, assisting you as you move through and honor your grief.
Viewing dance that embodies grief can be a helpful way to move through it.  Dance speaks the language of the soul.
It moves us beyond the lexical mind and into the experiences of the heart, where we heal.

Pictured: Island of Tears.
This is in Minsk, Belarus and is a monument where the people of Belarus go to grieve for those that gave their lives in WWII.  I have visited it and it is a powerful evocation of grief.  In the same way that a grief altar works, this monument gives people a place to go to grieve.  The women hold bowls to catch their tears…

I created the dance Island of Tears (below) after visiting the monument of the same name while on tour in Belarus.  The monument was so evocative of grief that I wanted to honor the people of Belarus and all humanity who have endured such loss.  Although the dance is not a literal story, to me it represents a mother and her two daughters dealing with their grief, as they are surrounded by their ancestors who continue to watch over them.  The music was written and gifted to me by Vladimir Zenovich and performed by the renown Belarussian choir, Gramnitsy. It is performed by my award winning company (1984 – 2011) Moving Arts Dance.

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