Outside the Circle

Cindy Milstein

Reviving Grief Rituals, Honoring Our Dead

Grief rituals, one could argue, are part of the essential grounding for millennia-old cultures that orient toward far more ecological relations with the whole of this earth, including each other. For loss is part of the seasons of life, which ancient—and yet still here—cultures recognize needs to be honored through ceremony so as to remember what is loved and cherished, and continually reaffirm a duty to love and defend life.

It is little wonder that as colonialism and capitalism, heteropatriarchy and white Christian supremacy, grew into hegemonic death machines over the centuries, they tried to kill off innumerable life-giving rituals and ceremonies that humans passed along over generations to hold each other through transitions. They tried to make people forget that minds and bodies crave—and need—those rituals and ceremonies in order to sustain hearts and spirit. And without heart and spirit, humans become shells of themselves.

It is little wonder, then, that so many humans today, but especially human-made institutions like states and their police, are so hollowed out of heart—of empathy and sociability, solidarity and communal care—that they all too easily acquiesce to or participate in killing off life.

It has been a week since Tortuguita was murdered in cold blood by cops within Weelaunee forest, where Tort gave full heart and loving spirit to defending life-giving ecosystems. May their memory be a blessing.

In that week, so many people have, in essence, “sat shiva,” a ritual within Jewishness that is about taking seven days to be with community (whether people or trees) to begin to honor and process loss of a beloved and grief at their death. Shiva doesn’t mean doing nothing. It is a time to sustain our hearts and spirits.

So it’s remarkable—a testament to Tort as well as the big, amorphous, autonomous, yet interwoven circles of rebels—that this past week has witnessed an outpouring of remembrance that we do indeed need and can revive ancient grief rituals, as precisely the ground that allows us to keep fighting, not merely to #StopCopCity, but to stop all systemic theft of lands and life.

#RebelliousMourning #MourningOurDead #FightingLikeHellForTheLiving #RitualAsResistance #MendingTheWorld

(photo: sign with words “Weelaunee People’s Park” seen among the trees in October 2022 at Defend the Atlanta Forest)

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This entry was posted on January 25, 2023 by in Uncategorized.
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