ABSTRACT

Rituals are significant for continuing bonds theory. The decline of rituals during World War I was partly responsible for the shift towards prescriptively short periods of grief, and the emphasis on severing bonds. Conversely, ancestor rituals were influential in the move back towards the idea that continuing bonds with the dead can be healthy and even beneficial (Steffen & Coyle, 2012). Self-help grief literature often advises people to create their own rituals, frequently in ways that involve continuing bonds, and empirical studies suggest that rituals are an effective way of alleviating painful elements of grief (Norton & Gino, forthcoming). Because of the decline of rituals, modern western societies are sometimes regarded as having insufficient therapeutic resources for grievers. Continuing bonds theory responds by turning to other cultures for wisdom that includes ritual when helping people respond to grief, and pointing to new rituals that are emerging informally within western society.