Grief Support

“There are those that are not frightened of grief: dropping deep into the sorrow, they find therein a necessary elixir to the numbness. When they encounter one another, when they press their foreheads against the bark of a centuries-old tree…their eyes well with tears that fall easily to the ground. The soil needs this water. Grief is but a gate, and our tears a kind of key opening a place of wonder thats been locked away. Suddenly we notice a sustaining resonance between the drumming heart within our chest and the pulse rising from the ground” – David Abram

Thérèse  has been offering grief rituals at Sacred Groves since 2002, inspired and mentored by her experience with grief rituals offered by Sobonfu Some and Joanna Macy. (More about her teachers below).  This work has grown over the years, a team of co-facilitators has developed and many have been touched by the healing power of grief ritual.  Instrumental to allowing aliveness in life is taking time to release and honor emotion in a sacred space. In our American culture, there are few places where the expression of grief and sadness are welcome. Yet feelings of loss and heartbreak are a fundamental part of our human experience. If the feelings are not released, they become repressed. Repressed grief becomes depression, a feeling of being ‘stuck,’ unable to access joy, laughter, even sadness.

Many traditional indigenous cultures hold that the ritualized sharing of grief provides an essential “glue” for the connectedness of a community. Grieving is one of the ways we express love for what we’ve lost, and in the process helps us ground in what most deeply matters to us. Whether it be from the loss of dear ones, cherished dreams, places, communities, lost health, abilities and skills, dropping into the deep feelings of grief can be immensely restorative, particularly when witnessed, held and allowed to run its full course by an empathetic and respectful community who are nourished by their mutually shared support of each other. As Sobonfu Some has said, “The village is the place you go to be seen.” It is this being seen for what we most deeply value that helps repair the “break in belonging,” and lets us plant the seeds of hope and renewal.


Over the years, a wonderful team of grief tenders has arisen from our work at Sacred Groves, women and men who have themselves benefitted from the support and healing of grief rituals who also want to bring the gift of grief support to others.  Many different forms of grief support are now available, including one-to-one coaching, weekly and monthly grief support groups on zoom, and in-person grief rituals–some only a few hours, others a few days.  We welcome those feeling acute grief from personal losses as well as those who feel grief as a result of the state of the environment, political systems, social structures and family systems of our troubled world.

Communal Grief Rituals/Retreats – an opportunity to support each other in-person to feel and express our emotions deeply, witnessed and held in the supportive container of community and ritual. 

  • December 1-3, Grief Retreat near Olympia WA,  facilitated by Therese and Tere of Sacred Groves, along with others in our grief retreat team, Mary Hart, Laurence Cole and Siena Tenisci.  Read more here.
  • Grief Rituals at Sacred Groves – We offer a monthly evening grief ritual.  October 20, November 10 and December 8.  Read more here. 

1:1 Grief Support Sessions – If you are someone who would benefit from more personalized support, and/or are unable to attend group rituals, we recommend the following practitioners for one-on-one sessions.

Grief Rituals on Zoom:  

  • Mary Hart and Siena Tenisci offer 6 week series of 2 hour meetings weekly on zoom.  See Pacific Healing Circles for details. 
  • Joanna Laws Landis and Will Rogers offer a monthly grief ritual on zoom. For a schedule and more information, email Joanna at

More opportunities for grief rituals on-line and in person held by our friends and colleagues are listed on this webpage.

**Honoring my Teachers  Thérèse wants to acknowledge and express her deep gratitude to Sobonfu Some who was her most significant teacher as regards grief ritual. Thérèse was blessed to drum with and participate in a number of rituals with her between 1993 and 2013.  Although Sobonfu no longer walks on this earth, her rituals and teachings from the Dagara tribe in Burkina Faso live on in the grief rituals held at Sacred Groves (and elsewhere.) The development of this grief work has also been inspired by the ‘Despair and Empowerment’ work of Joanna Macy,  and from her own deep, personal experiences of grief.

Resources for Grief Work:

**Francis Weller published an excellent book about grief: “The Wild Edge of Sorrow; Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief.” Francis learned grief ritual from Malidoma Some (Sobonfu’s Some’s husband) so his teachings are in alignment with what we offer here at Sacred Groves.
**Megan Devine’s book “It’s OK That You are Not OK” is an excellent resource for those who have experienced the sudden loss of a beloved.
**Martin Prechtel’s book “The Smell of Rain on Dust: Grief and Praise” shares his perspective on grief and all he learned from the culture in Central America where he mentored for many years. In addition, he made an audio recording called “Grief and Praise,” available by clicking here
**Stephen Jenkinson (of the film “Griefwalker”) speaks and writes eloquently on the topic of grief.  See his website  for some good interviews with him on video.
**There are some interesting TED talks about grief.  Here’s one called “Against Grieving in Silence.”