Anointing and Ritual Making

Dying can come from a longtime terminal diagnosis, or can come with no warning, or anywhere in the middle. Sometimes we have time to take in the details of someone dying. Sometimes death is sudden with no time to take in anything, except to breathe.

A loss can be your pet has died, or a deep and abiding relationship like a partner or spouse has died. Or a best friend. Or you lose your wonderful job. Or an important relationship in your life has ended in a broken way. Grief can be cumulative and also can be triggered. It can be raw and new. It can change over time.

Anoint is created to help support those who are dying, and those who are grieving, through ritual making and by anointing with herbs and essential oils based the caring for thousands of people dying, and about five thousand friends and families members serving as a hospice and hospital chaplain for more than seven years.

Anointing is an ancient practice of blessing. Of protection. Of refuge. Of sanctuary. We anoint and bless with water, oil, sometimes ashes, smoke, or nothing at all, just the connection of a finger to a forehead. I believe that even rubbing dried lavender flowers between your thumb and fingers is a way of anointing. It is an ancient practice, now brought into the 21st century with new language and new ways of creating blessing for ourselves, and for others through ritual making.

For some, anointing with oil is a symbol of the holy and sacred. Some people call this holy and sacred God, Holy One, Spirit, the Divine or the Higher Power. It is used to bless people who are dying, people who have died, and as a blessing for those who grieve. It can especially be a ritual making blessing for self-care.

Elizabeth Webb