It feels so poignant, to write about my grief for Maeve Gavin’s death. Because Maeve was one of my teachers about grief – she held me in grief ceremonies, we held some together, and when she stopped travelling so much she supported a team of us in Devon to carry on running grief tending workshops and ceremonies deeply informed by her work.
I learnt from Maeve another dimension of spaciousness and generosity in facilitation – to welcome everything, to trust the process more, to not know what might be generated by speaking longer, more silence, extra time.. I inherited her exquisite weave of processes – time on the land, conceptual framing, hearing from the whole circle, writing practice, movement, singing, laughing, diving into the depths as well as holding it lightly.
I watched her create organisations that astonished me – imperfect, but finding their way with challenging tensions and dynamics. She worked with the 8 shields technologies, but also brought her own creativity and style. I remember the first group call for our Devon grief tending “holding group” – feeling so connected and ready at the end of a phone call where no one could see the other, but somehow we were absolutely together.
In 2013 Maeve and I brought the first Grief Tending ceremony at a big Art of Mentoring camp. I felt honoured to design and hold it with her. I remember standing alongside her, a ring of elders round the edge, a second ring singing, and grief pouring out into the central shrine – beautifully created by Ruth. The awesomeness of that waterfall of feeling finding its way to the ocean, to the earth. to expression and release.
I visited Maeve a few times in her far north home, from mine in the far south west. It was so sweet to spend time with her and her son, to see Maeve the mother offering such sweet holding, gentle wisdom to her boy. I was glad to hold her in her grief – while she also went on holding me.
Many people attended her funeral in Scotland at the end of October – family and friends of course, but also those who had been part of her healing journey, people from the nearby village whose lives she had touched by her warmth and smile. Maeve was buried by the river that flows out of Glen Affric, one of her favourite places.
How can it be that such a shining spirit is gone out of life? Praise for your beauty and shining spirit. Grateful for your tender heart and deep wisdom. Love for your courageous self and generous soul. A blessing in my life, still living in my being.
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