I felt trepidation as well as relief as a group gathered for the first in person Grief tending indoors since before COVID dramatically changed how we meet, more than a year ago.
In the correspondence before the workshop I felt a new part of my role, to help figure out how to meet possibly different needs about COVID precautions, behaviours, proximity and contact in a grief tending space.
Grief is not a tidy and controlled process by its nature. Involving body liquids, loud noises, and often, the longing for touch.
Kind touch is one of the few ways we generate oxytocin – as well as singing together, giving birth and breastfeeding. Oxytocin helps us to feel a sense of bonding with others, of deep connection
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.
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.