Burnout and Grief

painting of mourning mapI have taught several times on a retreat called “Sustaining Ourselves” – combining mindfulness practices with teachings about causes of burnout. Although grief tending is not explicitly in the programme, each time a group gathers for this course there is a moment when grief breaks through into the circle. Then stories emerge, that people who are busy have perhaps never had time to grieve when their mother or father died; that a deep loss from childhood was never recognised or healed; or perhaps that an ongoing situation is causing them great grief right now, and there is no space for it.

What happens in our physiology when we don’t attend to grief? Continue reading “Burnout and Grief”

Reflections from a first-time Grief-tending

I’m grateful to Dan who joined us for the half day on line workshop on December 18th and then sent these reflections on his first shared grief tending.

Grief Tending – Dan’s Experience

When’s the last time you listened openly to other people share their grief, without giving advice or solutions? When’s the last time you witnessed someone else, in their truth? Why do we not do this more? Why is this not part of our culture? Part of our cycles? 

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Grief and Praise in times of pandemic

We often speak about the two wings of the bird in grief tending – an image that comes from Martìn Prechtel. The two wings represent grief and praise, the pain of life and the joy of life. In the teaching as I’ve come to understand it, a full life means one where both wings are strong. We cannot love deeply without deep grief. We cannot celebrate beauty, open to the joy of the moment, let ourselves be free with laughter or creativity without also meeting those moments when the loved one is gone, the laughter and beauty is finishing. Impermanence means every sources of joy comes to an end, everything living dies, every moment passes.

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COVID and grief. I’ve been speaking to a few people recently and finding a shared experience of something like a layer of grief in our awareness. It doesn’t feel very acute or sharp, something like a dull ache that comes into focus if I put my attention on it, and then the tears may come. It feels hard to name them all, but somewhere in that layer are griefs for the end of normality, for the imposition of government rules into private spaces, the difficulty of balancing autonomy, choosing the risks I want to take, with public health obligations, the ongoing quiet loss of contact with others, of hearing of the massive wealth grab that is happening by the most powerful, the sense of impending trouble as the fallout of all this on mental health, inequality and poverty roll out, of the slow wearing down of people’s well being, the outrages that are being committed by the old against the young.

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