“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
Among the gifts Sacred Groves offers are regular opportunities to be with personal and collective grief, held in a ritual container with sacred intention amongst a supportive group of women and men. For several years we have hosted an evening Wailing Ritual. Twice a year we host a 2 day Grief Ritual Retreat. The development of this grief work has been inspired by the ‘Despair and Empowerment’ work of Joanna Macy, the Grief Rituals offered by Sobonfu Some and our own very deep and personal experiences of grief.
Many traditional indigenous cultures hold that the ritualized sharing of grief provides a most essential “glue” for the connectedness of a community. As someone once said, “You never forget the people with whom you’ve cried.” 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 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.
2020 Grief Ritual Retreats at Sacred Groves, March 6-8 and Nov 7-8. We will also be offering a Grief Ritual Retreat at beautiful Indralaya on Orcas Island, April 23-26. More info here.
The format of the Grief Ritual Retreat includes heart-opening talking circles, grounding meditation, and a variety of activities and rituals that culminate in a late night ritual around a grief shrine, accompanied by African drumming and a repetitive chant.
This retreat is co-facilitated by Therese, Tere, Mary Hart, and Laurence Cole. More details about this event, click here.
More about working with grief:
Instrumental to allowing aliveness in life is taking time to release and honor emotion. For many cultures, there is no place for the expression of our grief and sadness. 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.
We believe that to be truly alive and healthy, the full range of our feelings must find safe expression. We are committed to providing a safe place for both men and women to bring their emotions so as to allow them to pass through. This expands our vitality. We offer these opportunities for 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.
Other 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 has worked a lot with Malidoma Some (Sobonfu’s husband) so his model is near-identical to what we do 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: https://orphanwisdom.com/ for some good interviews with him on video.
**Another interview that will help prepare you is “Of Grief and Reverence,” available at this link: https://newandancientstory.net/episode-04-grief-and-reverence/
**There are some interesting TED talks about grief. Here’s one called “Against Grieving in Silence.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zIFGl5tPQQ