My parents raised us agnostic. They had a very traditional and rigid Catholic upbringing. When they arrived in the continental US they were both shocked when they met people of various faiths outside of Catholicism and Christianity. They felt lied to about there being "only one path."
When death comes religion provides a comforting ritual that your numb and in shock body and mind can easily just follow into the ritual. You know the steps, you've probably done them before or seen them in media. Nonetheless, what I learned sitting shiva with a homegirl several years ago after her mom died was that ritual, no matter what it may include, is comforting at times.
I chose to make my own rituals.
This isn't anything new. So many belief systems have rituals and many of us who fled organized religion still practice ritual. My rituals were about me choosing to stay alive because thinking and talking and dancing to death and dying and the erotic of the state of the body shifting to another space does something. Sort of like knowing you are being called for or by something and you must go and do and answer the call!
I made ritual for all the things that got me out of bed. While showering my ritual became touching parts of my body and really looking and feeling them. I would touch my hands and remember the freckles on my hands are from my mom just as the freckles on my face and shoulders are from her. The body parts that don't resemble my biological families I chose to think of who in our family, which ancestor was enslaved that I resemble the most? I don't know their names and I try to connect with them. I never found comfort or connection or myself in the faces or bodies of family members I grew up with.
When I had the energy to eat I chose to focus on reminding my taste buds what they were missing as ritual. What have my family and ancestors been forbidden to do that I can honor doing now to nourish my body? I did the same with choosing clothing, changing bed sheets, applying makeup, and reading books. I did sex magic again and made fucking others and myself a ritual.
I had to be reminded that ritual allows for release and also for comfort. I did what I could as I could and it was enough.
Read post 21 here.