A special service and rituals can provide comfort to the grieving

  • The service bulletin on the day of special prayers for Baheej.

    The service bulletin on the day of special prayers for Baheej. Susan Anderson-Khleif

Posted9/11/2021 7:00 AM

By Susan Anderson-Khleif

My friend Carole gave me a wonderful idea. She dedicated a special church service to her husband who died last November. And I thought to myself -- what a good idea.


So I requested a special memorial service and prayers at my own church for my dear Baheej on the ninth anniversary of his death. It happened last month on Aug. 8, the closest Sunday before that anniversary.

It was lovely to hear the prayers and his name being said several times in remembrance to the congregation. It was also announced in the Sunday service bulletin. The church secretary sent me a couple copies of this printed bulletin. Very beautiful. The service was at Eastern Orthodox St. George in Cicero, where Baheej's funeral had been held in 2012.

St. George's services are livestreamed on Sunday mornings. I watched it on my iPad via YouTube. Thank goodness for technology. Cicero is an hour's drive with traffic.

Since then, I've also gone over to our local St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church and lighted a candle for Baheej, and one for my brothers, parents and grandparents. Also one for Baheej's dear grandmother, Leah, and his parents.

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The Orthodox church is organized by language groups. St. Sophia is Greek speaking, St. George is Arabic speaking, and the Russian Orthodox is Russian. We've been in the Russian Orthodox cathedral in Helsinki, Finland, which is very old and beautiful. The church services are bilingual -- English and the other language according to the ethnic branch. However, it's the same service and all part of the same Orthodox Church. They feature lots of music and the same basic beliefs and prayers as in the Protestant and Roman Catholic Christian churches, with some differences in specific points of theology and norms.

Anyway, this special service with memorial to Baheej was so nice.

The point is: Rituals can be very soothing in grief. I understand many people are not religious, yet many do live by certain religious principles from childhood -- even though not personally observant or church/temple/mosque goers. Many others believe in the spirit world, so they'll probably understand.

In any case, this service and special prayers helped me contend with that "tough time of year" last month, and it was comforting. We need to seek comfort and support in grief. Religion helps for some. And friends and family are often the biggest source of support.

• Susan Anderson-Khleif of Sleepy Hollow has a doctorate in family sociology from Harvard, taught at Wellesley College and is a retired Motorola executive. Contact her at sakhleif@comcast.net or see her blog longtermgrief.tumblr.com. See previous columns at www.dailyherald.com/topics/Anderson-Kleif-Susan.

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