Grief Circle

“Imagine the feeling of relief that would flood our whole being if we knew that when we were in the grip of sorrow or illness, our village would respond to our need. This would not be out of pity, but out of a realization that every one of us will take our turn at being ill, and we will need one another. The indigenous thought is when one of us is ill, all of us are ill. Taking this thought a little further, we see that healing is a matter, in great part, of having our, connections to the community and the cosmos restored. This truth has been acknowledged in many studies. Our immune response is strengthened when we feel our connection with community. By regularly renewing the bonds of belonging, we support our ability to remain healthy and whole.” Frances Weller

I conducted two grief circles this month. The first was online and, once again, a was powerful and deeply moving reminder of what it is to meet with community. We had folk joining us from the USA, NZ and Australia.

Unplanned In-Person Grief Circle

I was asked to conduct a funeral ceremony for a young man who had died unexpectedly. The date was uncertain and I let the family know I would be away for a few days to attend the Auslan Only Weekend. They wanted to meet with me anyway to help guide the way and make plans.

On an article on planning I wrote, “Preparing to visit a family after the unexpected death of their brother, a young man. I breathe and listen as I get the information from the person calling to make arrangements. I take notes and breathe again. I find out how many people will come to the meeting and who they are. 20. It’s not usual to have that many people for a first meeting with a celebrant to discuss what rituals and ceremony are being called for. I welcome the idea of a ‘grief circle’ because this is how I imagine I can connect with so many folk. I create an outline, the words I will use to introduce myself. I hear whispers in the background of my mind. What will I say? How will I be with this family? What if it gets out of control?

I breathe again.

I offer myself self empathy.

I check in for the shared needs that I imagine are present.

Mourning. Safety. Connection. Understanding.

I go gently with myself and trust I will know what to say. I will listen and guide and listen some more.

After two and a half hours together, I drafted a ceremony. This was just one of the paragraphs I wrote based upon what the family shared with me:

“He comes from a strong ancestral line, connected to Country and kin, to songs long gone, songs he sang, and songs yet to be made and danced to, and now, he is in that ancestral line. (The young man’s name) is your ancestor… close and present. This new relationship, out of physical form, takes time, takes tears, grief, laughter, stories, songs, music… more grief, tears, pain and then circling back to stories, laughter and song… in a cycle known intimately by the stars and humankind.”

How do you connect to those gone before? To your ancestors? I’d love to read your comments below.

(PS Your email doesn’t show in the comments)

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments