Mourning and Celebration Circle

It’s my experience that the more we engage in deep listening and mindful presence as individuals and as a community, the greater is our capacity to be present to what is happening in the moment, no matter what.

I wrote the poem below after a Mourning and Celebration circle for the family of a 60 year old man who died in a tragic car accident. We held the circle the day prior to the large public funeral ceremony. The deceased’s sister, Michelle, wrote afterwards,

“Looking back, the Mourning and Celebration Circle, which we experienced with Wendy, in a private familiar environment was really valuable for me, as my brothers death was tragic and so unexpected. I was looking for answers as to why and trying to accept I was not going to see Greg here in this life again. I had never encountered this type of celebration at any of the funerals I had attended previously so didn’t know what to expect. Wendy immediately put me at ease and her presence just gave me a sense of calm and reassurance. The space created for all our family members in this circle, allowed each and every person to talk openly and honestly without judgement or interjection from anyone. Memories, emotions, stories and tears were shared by all, as painful as it was for many of us. I feel this ceremony helped bring us closer together in our grief and helped prepare us for the next day when a public service was to be held.”

The Fisherwoman’s Net

Inside a glass room in the forest
by the Never Never River, peace 
has a rhythm: crickets, frogs and geckoes.  

The moon’s halo lights the high cirrus—a storm is coming. 
Late this afternoon, I stood on the small jetty and could see,
through the water, sand and stones.

A gold perch disappeared into the shadows. 
I think it was a perch, but I am not 
a fisherwoman of the river. 

I’ve cast my net wide these last few days 
to hold a family’s love, their angst and mourning, 
as they gave voice to their grief—for a son,  

a father, a brother, an uncle, a friend.
A supple net made of rope and knots and old 
funeral rites has held them 

as the waves of grief tossed them 
and the tide shifted and the weather changed.
The squalls hit hard. Where they sank, stories rose. And fell.

The waters listen. 
The storm passed.
Everyone was seen, no one was stranded.

And I sat with them on a deck for tea;
and a kookaburra came
and the orange sun sank behind the mountain.
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