There was a question that used to stump me when I met someone for the first time. The person would ask a common question, “How many children do you have? I’d then begin a search for the right answer, the answer that wouldn’t derail the conversation, that wouldn’t take us on a detour and cause me to have to take care of the person who asked the question.

I wanted to avoid creating that big gulf between us, me as the one who mourns and they, the person who can’t even imagine it. The truth I want to get to –“I raised three children but now there is only one on this plane, and I don’t hear from him as often as I’d like.” ­

Grief is a response to losing someone or something that we love. In spite of the fact that loss is common in most every life, and the fact that there are eight different types of loss that need grieving, we are not comfortable with one another’s grief, or with our own. Now that everybody on the planet is suffering multiple losses – this might be the time to embrace grief and see what learning to do it well offers for our future life.   How did we get it so wrong? We in western culture have been taught things that may not be so. The predominant model that is still repeated in news articles and conversations is that grieving is a series of orderly stairsteps through predictable stages arriving at a completion that puts it all behind us. We climb those stairs and then, arriving at the top landing we dust off our palms and declare we have arrived at acceptance.  

I propose a different model. After a life that has given me many opportunities to grieve, I not only don’t subscribe to this model but I don’t subscribe to the emerging model, the “everyone grieves differently and there is no wrong way to grieve model that’s becoming popular. My notion is that you can get it wrong if you don’t do it. And the sages throughout the ages have articulated principles that still hold true. It helps to know that grief is episodic and will be reoccurring throughout our lives. Grief is the price of losing love and once we process the loss, it becomes a part of who we become. Getting good at grieving means at the end, we look back on a life well-lived.   Rather than the image of stairsteps or complete chaos, I prefer the image of the surf rising and falling with the tides, being moved by winds and storms from larger realities. In the famous Japanese wood block painting of big waves we’re in these little boats, sometimes paddling with an easy rhythm, or floating, enjoying a calm sea. At other times we’re marshaling all our individual and communal strength not to be overcome by the intensity and frequency of the waves.

The Art of Grieving means to be in touch with others in the same boat, to drop into liminal space – that space indigenous peoples call the space “between the worlds” and create – through writing, chanting, drawing, dancing, cooking, making masks, helping others, (or rejoicing in those people who are helping others).   All deaths and many losses have the power to overwhelm, shock, terrify or shatter our world view. The process of grieving requires mourning, an outward expression in community. Naming it. Honoring it. Letting others know we feel it with you. And thankfully that’s what many are doing in this challenging time.  

Join me and the Wing & A Prayer Pittsburgh Players this Thursday May 28th at 7 pm eastern, 4 pm Pacific as we perform and present, as part of the Reimagine Festival on-line, The Art of Grieving: Towards a Well-Lived Life  

If you’d like a printable poster of all the items go to my website and download a copy

Offerings and Events:

InterPlay On-Line – Friday mornings at 10:30 am

ReImagine Life, Love & Loss Festival

Sunday, May 31st 4pm EST/3pm CST/2pm MST/1pm PST
Join us for an hour of playful body wisdom, exformation, and radical self-care tools & techniques taught by two dancing social workers. Learn the five skills of Self-Care – with a deeper dive into one each week through June 14th, 2020.See all of the ReImagine Events & Register here:

Radical Self-Care While Physical Distancing

Tuesday, June 2nd at 11:30am EST/10:30am CST/9:30am MST/8:30am PST
Join two dancing social workers and authors Christine & Sheila for their weekly class for radical self-care and a chance to play with tools and techniques for resilience & well-being.Register here:

The Art of Grieving: Toward a Life Well-Lived

May 28th at 4 pm Eastern. Love to have you join us.

Here’s the link to register 

Looking for a personal consultation as you navigate this liminal time?
Call me at 817-706-4967 or drop me a line at [email protected]