These handmade bags are an important part of our “Rock Ceremony,” a ritual shared by every grieving family in our program. Whenever families gather at The Children’s Room, we end the visit holding hands in a big closing circle. Sometimes during closing circle we have a Rock Ceremony, marking a sendoff to a family ready to leave their bi-monthly support group.
A family is invited into the center of the closing circle, and each person picks a handmade bag to fill with rocks. One by one, each family member chooses a rough rock with sharp edges: this rock symbolizes the corner of their heart that feels painful because someone in their family has died. Then they each choose three smooth stones, to symbolize the enduring beauty of life and the parts of them that are shiny and whole, and perhaps stronger than before.
We recite the Rock Ceremony reading, which includes the words, “Because of what’s happened to you, you may always be stronger, more gentle, and more tender with all the people in your life. These stones were chosen just for you, and have special meaning.”
Many caring hands have collected rocks and sewn the handmade bags for our ceremony, and we welcome contributions!
We can all appreciate comforting rituals in the face of changes and challenges. Against a backdrop of uncertainty or difficulty, a ritual helps us pause and re-center our outlook. The Rock Ceremony at The Children’s Room is just one way to connect to our past and to each other, as we honor important feelings and memories together.