These past three days have found us with a dear friend in the home in Switzerland she shared with her husband, initially as part of their growing lives together as man and wife, and then, from early 2014, as the place in which he found himself ill with cancer, being treated, being told all was clear and then hearing months later that the cancer was non-curative. Thus he walked and they walked, in as full a way as possible then, into his dying time with all this asked of them and offered them. It is nearly a year now since he died here at his home. How then to pack up and leave such a place? How in this last year her grief has been met, held, invited, valued and ‘given a place at the table’? Grieving can be such a lonely thing. Who is it that lays a welcome mat at the door for broken-heartedness – whether the grief is the grief-soaked heartache for the beloved who has died, the new life conceived that miscarried, agony for the forest cut down, or the sight of starving polar bears on the receding arctic ice?
There is much around us that offers ‘healing’, being the best you can be, re-working our thinking so we don’t feel so bad – the promise of life that feels good, happy, contributing, fulfilling. Yet if we look around we see things that are utterly heart-wrenching. Think of the tent city in Calais, the utter destruction of Aleppo in Syria, polluted rivers, the effects of soil erosion – alongside day to day life: hearing a grandchild or friend has cancer, that someone’s mum has just died unexpectedly, news of accidents, job losses, challenges in education or work, and all the many everyday things that matter – surely grief is the called-for skill of human kinship in such times.
This last two years have found us exploring the work of grief and broken-heartedness, love and grief as skills joined at the hip, and the bearing witness to ‘what is’. “WHAT?” you might say – “Aren’t broken hearts supposed to be mended?” and “Isn’t grief something that inflicts itself upon us – something to ‘get over’ so we can get on with life?” It seems that few people seek out grief or want to get good at it but we are beginning to understand that, as Stephen Jenkinson says: “grief is an ability as vital to our emotional and spiritual life as the skill of love.” And so we continue to gather to hone this skill and to invite others to join us in this quest.
Our next ‘Griefwalker Day’ – is on 17th September at our home near Lampeter.
The next residential gathering at Denmark Farm is 21st – 25th September – http://bit.ly/2apc3U5
Anyone moved to is welcome to join us at these events whether or not you have connected with us before. Please contact gayano – 01558 650747, 07933 743105 or firstname.lastname@example.org – to explore, ask questions, reflect, wonder, or book a place.