Why Tend Grief together?
Grief tending with others can be a powerful antidote to the harm of a culture which often encourages people to avoid or suppress pain. It also offers the possibility of deep connection in this time of isolation as we share our vulnerability and strong feelings with others. It can help us to:
- Release energy and help prevent depression or burnout
- Grow a new positive relationship with grief
- Feel more alive and connected to self and others
- Soothe and recalibrate our physical nervous system
All feelings are welcome – fear, outrage, despair, not knowing, numbness, guilt, sorrow, and more. Joy and love may come too!
“I find it enriching to hear of others’ grief which then becomes our collective grief. The whole day is held with respect, attentiveness and skill.” (Lynne, one day workshop)
On line Grief tending
Since COVID we have been offering on line grief tending workshops. There are some benefits to working online – including joining from home so it’s cheaper, more affordable and for some feels more supportive; you can manage how much you are “in” and how much you lean back to be with yourself without affecting the group energy so much; and you have the benefit of creating a simple shrine and ceremony in your own home, which can stay with you as long as it serves.
See more about the shapes of the journeys we are currently offering here.
Click for more information and FAQs about on line Grief tending and how it works
The journey of grief tending
All include the following elements which we see as essential parts of healthy grieving:
- Welcome, coming together as a group, building trust and safety
- Connecting with resources and support
- Explaining some grounding principles of grieving together
- Setting an inclusive invitation for welcoming grief
- Practices for stirring our grief
- Ceremony to honour and express grief
- Embodied integration and soothing
- Preparing to return and closing together
Over many years we have experimented with different forms. There are currently two practices shared in a half day workshop, and a much more spacious and varied two day journey.
Writing out grief – half day workshop
includes a writing exercise – this gives time to focus more on what you want to explore and have witnessed in a small group
Grief circle – half day workshop
Each person has a turn to share in whatever form feels right – with words, sounds, movement, objects, with several or none of these. Hearing from several others can enrich our experience, touching places which perhaps we are not bringing to awareness this time.
Loving life, welcoming grief: two day workshop
A deeper dive into exploring, sharing and honouring our grief, moving between between time together online, and time away from screens at home. We have more time to stir our grief together and then rest back into our own space to digest, explore, and allow the next layer to surface. Using a range of different practices in small groups, the full group and some in solitude, we may find practices that we can take into our own lives. On the first evening you will be supported to create a ceremony for something that feels significant for you – if you choose to. Participants have found this a powerful experience.
Support before and after
Grief tending with others can be a powerful experience – even the shorter events can stir strong feelings. For the work to be beneficial it’s really important to have support in place before and especially after the workshop. We remind participants of this in the booking process and during the workshop itself, and we are pointing it out here as well! Healing what is painful requires loving holding and support.
We aim to offer this work to all who want it, regardless of income. We aim to offer a sliding scale as well as bursary places. Please contact us or the organiser if the advertised price is unaffordable and we will do what we can. We have a bursary fund and we want to use it! We are grateful for financial support for reduced cost places from other participants and some generous people.
Grief tending workshops do not replace ongoing therapy or support
All those involved in offering this work are deeply committed to the sharing the benefits of grieving with others. There is much to be gained from hearing others in their grief – the sense that we are not alone in the deep and difficult places within us; that there are others who understand some of what we experience; and that there can be several people there to receive and accept what we bring. We might dream of a culture where all adults are tending their pain in this way, perhaps supported and held by a circle of elders who have also lived a life where pain shared becomes medicine, guidance and fuel for reconnecting and restoring what is broken.
In modern culture however there is still definitely a place for one to one work, where we can be held in the ongoing loving heart of one other. This might be therapy, sponsorship through a recovery program, co-counselling or others forms that are more accessible. Especially if we are dealing with feelings that are sometimes close to overwhelming, with ongoing depression or anxiety, or other powerful emotions, we recommend having more one to one holding, by a professional if possible.