Here’s some information about how Grief tending workshops are run, and how it works on line – answering some “Frequently asked questions”.
See upcoming events here.
What happens in a Grief workshop?
There are 3 main parts to a workshop:
- Building the banks of the river: coming together as a group, noticing what nourishes us, creating safety through agreements, getting to know each other; sharing some information about grief tending together, what we mean by grief, and calling in support in many ways including through simple ceremony.
- Stirring, expressing and witnessing grief: we use different practices such as writing or drawing and sharing; expressing in a “circle”; creating our own form, and more. This is the central focus of the workshop
- Integration and preparing to return: giving attention to the body so our physical and nervous systems have time to integrate any shift or impact; soothing and calming through breath, sound and touch; orienting back to the support we will call on, and noticing anything we are taking from this back to our everyday lives.
What feelings are welcome at a Grief tending event?
All feelings are welcome. Grief includes all painful feelings – fear, rage, guilt, shame, numbness, despair, disgust and more, as well as sorrow. These feelings are all a natural part of being human, and for many of us there are few outlets to really express what is true for us. For some the main experience may be of feeling nothing, perhaps that grief is a long way off. Staying with that feeling is also grief work, and is also welcome. And sometimes we cannot separate the arising of sorrow, love, joy, fear, courage, hope, despair. This helps us to see that these feelings are not separate, that our joy and love are intertwined with the grief of loss; our fear is the flip side of our courage, and our anger is often close to our passion for truth, justice and healthy boundaries.
Is it ok to come for part of the workshop?
We ask that everyone comes for the full journey. If you need to miss a small section please agree that with the facilitators in advance. All three stages are important – mainly for your own well being!
On line Grief tending
We have now hosted several grief tending events on line, and found that even with the challenges of distance and technology we can create a profound, welcoming space enabling the release of grief, the balm of being witnessed and the healing of hearing others in their deep truth.
In each workshop we will create ceremony in our own space, coming together to call in support and finding the many ways we are connected even when we are not physically together.
We offer two forms of on line workshop – a four hour short workshop and a two day deep dive into honouring grief. There is more information about these formats here
How can I express myself fully through a computer screen?
When each person is witnessed we encourage free rein to express in whatever way feels true – away from the screen, with words, sounds, body movement, or any mix of these and other forms of expression. The others are holding a supportive space. There is no obligation to be seen, to be understood – and you may want to tell the story and have it witnessed in that way. Part of the beauty can be hearing the range of ways we have of releasing – maybe one person’s way will inspire a new possibility for someone else.
We use different modes of expression and encourage you to attend a workshop that feels right for you. In the longer workshops we have time to play with different forms – writing, sharing, and doing some practices alone at home as part of the flow.
How can we do deep work using Zoom / computers?
A key learning and focus has been letting go of the screen connection in order to stay present in the body: we can only feel and express grief, or anything else, when we are in touch with ourselves. Participants are welcome to turn away from the screen, to lie down, to be with closed eyes or whatever else supports more connection to self, in order to be connected with others.
We have found that the shared intention of coming together to honour, express, witness and care for grief in a shared way creates a deep sense of safety and trust, as well as a strong container for people to release a lot.
How is Grief tending in a group different to doing it on my own or with one other?
Grief tending in a group seems to have some powerful effects that for many who come feel natural, strengthening and relieving. Here are some of my thoughts on why this is:
- In a grief tending group we are both the banks of the river for each other and the one falling down into our vulnerability and honest pain. Unlike in a therapeutic relationship we are both the strength for others and the one in need of support. Bringing this mix to the places in us that feel broken can itself be restorative. None of us are only broken, only pain. We are also compassion, support, loving arms to hold and reach out to others.
- In a culture where for many of us there are very few places to be honest about our painful feelings it can be very relieving and connecting to be with others willing to share their vulnerability. “I’m not the only one”. “I’ve felt there was something wrong with me because I feel so much”.
- When we hear the pain of others expressed it touches other aspects of our own grief. This might feel overwhelming, but here we are also many people holding this together. We can feel that the different areas of grief we carry are being tended to without me having attend to it all myself.
- I believe we evolved to feel and express pain as a way of bonding communities of people together. It helps us to see each other from our hearts when we are tangled in the irritations and stresses of daily life.