Updated: Aug 14
Healing our Loss and Honoring Our Dead
Hello Transforming Grief Family. I hope you are as well as can be in our world gone wobbly and that you continue to find new ways to expand and grow. I'm excited to announce a new workshop for us that will happen in September. Our last workshop was about self care. We talked about grief, the way it lives in the body, feeling like an uncomfortable boulder at first, and how we can soften it into wisdom and compassion if we turn toward it and tend to it. We practiced meditation, yoga, sound activation and also did some letter writing. These are tools that ground us in the present and quiet us down enough to connect with our feelings of loss, anxiety, overwhelm, anger, sadness, hopelessness and also hope. There’s so much emotion flailing around in all of us these days, with lots of tumult rocking the world. Self care is so important and it was our starting point… I’d like to continue along the same path, and expand on it.
In this next workshop, called In Memoriam, we'll journey on to the next step in the process, which is honoring our dead loved ones and connecting the wisdom we’ve earned through the grieving process back to them directly. The dead give us a tremendous gift when they leave us. Mary Oliver wrote a poem called The Uses of Sorrow, where she said:
(In my sleep I dreamed this poem)
Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.
When we’re in the beginning stages of grief and the boulder is really heavy and uncomfortable, the whole idea that there’s a gift involved feels like fuck off. I didn't ask for a gift. Leave me alone. But when we begin to go through the process and feel into our hearts, and as our grief boulder softens, we start to see that suffering really does tenderize one’s life. We learn compassion and gratitude; we learn the value of slowing down, of quieting down; we learn that nothing is promised and that rather than struggling, we can simply pay attention, so we can begin to accept things the way they are without closing our hearts.
All this takes years to cultivate and we’re all in different places when it comes to our grief. Pema Chodron speaks about the wisdom of starting where you are, and regardless of where you are with your grief today, or this week, or this year, there are people we have lost that we can thank for nudging us down the path.
Ram Dass would talk about the path to enlightenment and he'd say that at some point you just want to “get on with it.” That’s how I feel about grief. We can sit on enormous amounts of grief for years and years and create a lot of misery for ourselves doing that. After a while you actually start to get sick of the agony and you say, Ok! Ok! What do I have to do to move through this? That’s when the work of becoming aware of our grief and tending to it starts. Maybe it’s forgiveness work, or it could be work that has to do with blame and shame or it could be stuff about abandonment or powerlessness or overwhelm. We all hold grief differently. But when we start to think about all these emotions and feel into them with gentle persistence, we begin to see how much we’ve already grown, and then we begin to understand how much more growth is possible, specifically because the grief process shepherds us through, if we allow it.
In Memoriam will focus on those we are grieving for, in order to honor and connect with these dead loved ones who provide us with such a rich opportunity to continue to grow as people. Our connection to them is so important because our relationship with a loved one doesn’t end when they die. We orbit around each other, bound by love and experience across time and space. The better we acknowledge and work with this basic truth, the more fully we can understand ourselves and the human experience.
What We'll Do - As always, we'll get grounded in our bodies with flow yoga and then we’ll do a special honoring guided meditation where you can connect with your departed loved one in a way that feels meaningful to you. Finally, we’ll come to our altars for some healing sound work, calling in our dead for the purpose of connecting with them, honoring them and thanking them for touching our lives so deeply. In this way we can find an appreciation for our own growth while nurturing the loving connection we have with the one who’s died. The growth you pursue in your beloved dead's name honors their life and yours. Let this be part of your shared legacy. We hope to see you at In Memoriam. Details on the workshop page!