Grief ritual for therapists in dark times: emerging resilience post-covid through participatory action research

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Dancing Otter, Dawn
Abstract This thesis is an investigation of the potential benefits of a grief ritual as a grassroots approach to acknowledging losses and facilitating healing for healthcare practitioners in the aftermath of the global Covid-19 pandemic crisis. The context of ritual within this thesis is a structured practice of acknowledging events, sharing personal feelings, and initiating desired change. Drawing inspiration from ancient ritual practices, mentored wisdom, and literature, the study focused on eight health care practitioners from the Madrona Integrative Health Centre (MIHC), an independent wellness organization located on Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada. The research examined the impact of a grief ritual workshop on the grief and stress experienced by healthcare practitioners at MIHC. The research incorporated sharing circles, a ritual practice, anonymous surveys, interviews, and a collaborative collage, which were reviewed and approved by the Royal Roads University Research Ethics Board. The data collected for the research came in the form of surveys, interviews, facilitator field notes, and the collaborative collage. The findings revealed that a grief ritual process was a beneficial modality for supporting the practitioners of MIHC in acknowledging and processing grief, however the need for emotional support for this group go beyond the limitations of one intervention. The recommendations reflect the findings and are supported by the relevant literature on pandemic studies, grief, and rituals. The grief ritual designed for this study may become part of proactive future strategies for MIHC practitioners to use to mitigate stress and prevent burnout. Keywords: grief ritual, wheel of the year, post-pandemic, ceremonial leadership
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