“I don’t have much knowledge yet in grief, and so this mass of darkness makes me small.” -Rilke
Many of us living in these times are not well-versed in the ways of grief. Though we all experience grief and loss, in many modern cultures, grief is pathologized, or is a temporary state to heal, or “get through.” If grief is entered, it is often practiced in solitude.
As Stephen Jenkinson says, “Waking up in these times is waking up with a sob.” When we truly open our eyes to it, there is so much to grieve and mourn in this impermanent world. In this last year of pandemic, there may have been loss of family members or friends, or loss of health, or loss of livelihood or physical contact with loved ones. All of this against the backdrop of climate crisis with the daily loss of species, icebergs, languages and estuaries.
“Our work is to understand grief not only as an emotion but also a core faculty of being human, a profound capacity to metabolize sorrow into something nutrient-dense for the community.” -Francis Weller
Over the course of the day together, we will simmer together in the waters of grief. We will listen deeply to each other share the grief and loss we are holding, and recognize that we do not have to hold it alone.
We will engage in short writing practices in small groups to help access different, non-habitual aspects of the mind and psyche.
We will also explore movement lessons that help us to fully inhabit our bodies, and particularly areas like the jaw, the chest, the lower belly, and our breathing, where tension patterns can block or inhibit the movement of grief.
We will conclude with a grief ritual practice together.
“These practices become soul hygiene. We know how to take care of our teeth, our hair and our body, we exercise, those are all hygiene practices, but we forgot about the hygiene of the soul. To clear out the soul, regularly with practices around grief is an absolute necessity.” -Francis Weller
“Grief is praise of those we have lost. Our own souls who have loved and are now heartbroken would turn to stone and hate us if we did not show such praise when we lose whom we love. A non-fake grieving is how we praise the dead, by praising that which has left us feeling cold and left behind. By the event of our uncontrolled grief, wail, and rap, we are also simultaneously praising with all our hearts the life we have been awarded to live, the life that gave us the health and opportunity of having lived fully enough to love deep enough to feel the loss we now grieve. To not grieve is a violence to the Divine and our own hearts and especially to the dead. If we do not grieve what we miss, we are not praising what we love. We are not praising the life we have been given in order to love. If we do not praise whom we miss, we are ourselves in some way dead. So grief and praise make us alive.” – Martin Prechtel from The Smell of Rain on Dust
For the last couple of years, my wife, Erin, and I have hosted community grief rituals, both in-person and online, for all genders. It feels important to hold a space specifically for men, as there can often be cultural conditioning that discourages men from accessing grief, particularly in the company of others. If you are trans, or non-binary and are drawn to attend, you are most welcome.
This gathering is about ordinariness, authenticity and connection. It is not a morbid event, nor is it about catharsis or any kind of performance. It is a container where we can hold, and tend to the needs of the soul around grief and loss. As teachers like Joanna Macy, Francis Weller and Martin Prechtel so eloquently express, grief is intimately connected with gratitude, praise and celebration of this precious life, or as Khalil Gibran wrote “The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.”
Please know it’s a come-as-you-are event with zero pressure as to how you express grief or not. You may weep, you may be a quiet witness, you may be numb, you may be surprised. However you come, your presence is a valued thread in our community tapestry. All that’s required is your humanity and your willingness to be present. You’re welcome to come whether you are grieving, tearful, pissed off, numb, enraged, or full of trepidation. You are welcome just as you are.
To have your grief held and witnessed in the compassionate space of community is a gift. To witness the grief others carry, with compassion, is a gift. It’s no longer “MY grief.” It’s just grief, and something each of us carries. We are not alone.
This day is offered on a donation basis, and attendance for the whole day is required.
The day will be limited to 20 participants, and you can make a donation of any amount here to reserve your spot.