A Ritual of Loss

By Shameelah Khan

2020 and now 2021 has welcomed with it, endless loss and we still find ourselves in a state of chronic mourning. I will not go into too many details about who I have lost but instead, I will very briefly discuss the process. I have always been a very sensitive person, the one who feels everything all at once. When I realized that death would be all around us because of this pandemic, and I had lost two friends that I loved very much, I knew that in order to survive, I needed to do more to heal from their loss. I began playing with material in my home, from writing letters to the dead, to painting images in their names, to making short experimental films from my bedroom or in my home, with just myself and my (falling apart) camera, I began to use my body as a site for healing. I was singing over their bones and creating rituals where there were none and I was entering into a healing transient place. When the wind came, it reminded me of how close change is. One day you are here and the next you are not. There are many ways to heal from loss I have learnt and it is not only the dead we mourn anymore. We mourn our lives, in significant ways. Rethinking our purposes, our paths, what we have lost like lovers, friends, parents, animals, jobs, sanity, illness…  but here is my body, still alive and well and I give myself permission to mourn as the sky mourns and new rain falls… 


I mourn your loss 

I mourn your loss 

I mourn your loss 

I mourn your loss 


Like a ritual of grief 

I mourn your loss 

As if it left my lips from an afterlife of ghosts 

I mourn your loss as if it was the afghan strewn 

Loving you was like a light trapped 

And in this pattern of mapping our trauma 

Sitting in the same place but moving all together 

Like flickering lights the ritual of grief 

I want to move forward but my body is split in twos 

A binary of love and fear 

Boundaries like shimmering lights from another world 

Telling me that it is okay to feel like a stranger to my own skin 

I mourn your loss 

A ritual of pain 

But angels do come and they protect 

My body feels light again and again

Against dust in a room a box a trapped figure 

becoming a mirror of the little girl who once knew joy 

I mourn your loss 


You can watch a ritual of grief here: