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Friday, April 10, 2009

By having a ceremonial burial for your burdens, you can take a symbolic step toward getting rid of them. It may remind you that you can get through anything as long as you bury it and move on.

Ask all the mourners to arrive in their black clothes so the ceremony can begin promptly. Suggest they bring a change of clothing so they can leave in less mournful attire. Have everyone sit somewhere peaceful or somber so they can reflect on all the burdens in their lives. After a few minutes of quiet contemplation, give each person a pen and note cards. There should only be one burden per note card, and you should only use one side. When everyone has written their burdens, take them to the burial ground in a solemn procession and circle the grave.Light the candle. Explain that it symbolizes faith, trust, surrender, and hope. (This can apply in either a religious or more general sense.)

Begin with one of your burdens first, since you are the Mistress/Master of Ceremonies. Read it out loud to the group, light the edge of the paper with the candle, and let the ashes fall into the grave. When burning, say, "Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. I relinquish my burden because I must." (Repeat the phrase together after each burden is read.) Then either pass the candle to the next mourner or hold the candle throughout the ceremony and instruct the next person to read theirs. Keep going around until all the burdens are gone. Cover the grave and give each mourner a note card that has the following inscription: "Goodbye burdens, I don't need you anymore, I am complete as I am. The longer I hold on to you, the harder it is to stand. I don't need a crutch, I can walk on my own. I don't need burdens in my life, so just leave me alone." Join hands with one another. "So, hand in hand we walk away and turn our backs to your grave. We're free from all our burdens now; we are not your slaves. No more burden, anxiety, or guilt. Finally we are free. There's nothing weighing me down now. I'm happy just being me!" Lead your procession away from the grave and change from your mourning clothes to your happier attire. Go on in life without these burdens and be happy.

Dig the grave site before the other mourners arrive. It doesn't need to be big, but make it somewhere and of an appropriate size that animals will not go back and dig through it later. Write burdens that are intangible things - not PEOPLE that trouble you. Instead of a burden like, "The kids won't behave and listen to me," internalize it and write "I am out of patience and can't make my own children listen." This may seem more depressing, but the point is that when things are going wrong, we start blaming ourselves and make it worse. Once we recognize (and write) that it is our fault, we can burn away that thought and deal with what we can actually do about the problem.

Be careful with fire. Make sure the papers are the only thing that will burn. Remove any nearby weeds and water any plants in the area before the ceremony. Remove anything that may catch fire, then replace it later. When burning the papers, drop them into the grave before the fire gets to your fingers. Don't worry if it isn't completely burned - it's all symbolic anyway.


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