Francis Weller's Five Gates of Grief:
Everything that we love, we will lose
That which we were expecting and did not receive
The places that have never known love
The sorrows of the world
"The work of the mature person is to carry grief in one hand and gratitude in the other and to be stretched large by them.
What if, instead of trying to out-manoeuvre grief, we came to it with reverence? "
- Francis Weller
"Healthy are those who grieve "
- Melody Beattie
Grief Tending | Ritual
How might it feel for the most vulnerable, tender, emotional parts of yourself to not only be seen and held, but actively welcomed and celebrated?
This is a heartening co-created community ritual where the collective outpouring of grief and sorrow serves everyone. From the first time I encountered a ritual like this, building on the work of the sharing circles I hold, I have felt a strong calling to offer this for others, to hold deeply trusting space where the vulnerability of each of our lives can truly be shared.
I've been on a journey with publicly expressing grief
since 2009, when clinical depression meant I could keep my tears hidden no longer. Since then I have written about grief, learned about grief, encouraged other people to grieve, asked people about grief and felt deeply grateful for and trusting of grief.
I have recently begun bringing together a small holding team and bringing this ritual to Frome.
To express an interest in these gatherings, contact me > >
"I felt creative and soothed after it... Very powerful and heartwarming" - A, 2019
"If you'd told me a year ago I would be doing something like that I'd have thought you were mad! But that was such a special experience; if people have been doing this kind of thing for thousands of years, there must be something to it. Wow, thank you Emily." - M, 2019
"I found it extremely humbling and caring and supporting and so loving.. I have been unable to process my grief due to complications for two years and managed in the ritual to heal at some level.. I came away with deep gratitude. The following day and also for this week I have accessed peace and lightness and also a sense of humour and emotions that left when [my partner] died. So thankyou very much for the experience and for being heard and held and loved" - A, 2019
"Thank you so much for the wonderful, powerful ritual you held. I felt both more full and more spacious after, it was very deep" - J, 2019
Currently on hold for 2020
Grief circles are also held in Bruton, Somerset, by Isla Macleod: www.islamacleod.com
and in Frome by Lisbet Michelson: http://www.lisbetmichelsen.co.uk/grief-tending-circles.html
Our ritual space provides a gentle non-judgemental holding for sharing what's on your heart at whatever level you feel comfortable; maybe sadness, maybe outrage, numbness, regret. Grief can also often look like a 'humorous' mask of saying that you're 'fine'. We then offer an opportunity to fully express the emotions that need to move through you and be released, supported by simple powerful sound and movement.
Previous participants often mention the safety of the space. If there's any small urge inside you to attend this, we encourage you to listen to it and take this opportunity for dedication to yourself, to connection, to community.
To provide a real depth of holding, my main co-facilitator has been Dave Bevan - who works with Jewels Wingfield.
We have an open intention for this ritual to continue to evolve, to be a Frome ritual, rather than from any other place or people. If you have any desire to bring an expression of yourself through into this ritual, please do speak up because our approach is collaborative. For example, if you'd enjoy creating simple songs or chants, if you'd enjoy creating visual artwork, if you'd enjoy contributing with food or music or readings or any other element that could fit into the grief framework, there is likely to be a space for your creativity to belong!
Teachings about grief ritual have been brought to the West in recent years by the late Sobonfu Somé, from the Dagara people of Burkino Faso in West Africa. There, grief ritual is performed regularly by the whole tribe to continue clearing that energy through, as a life-affirming release for the whole community.
The song from that tradition, which we may sing, is simple yet sacred and deeply powerful – it is not to be sung in any circumstances other than during held grief ritual. It calls on both the feminine and masculine lines of support and holding, and represents joy and connectedness, the resourcefulness of village, of elders, of helpful ancestors, of nature. The inflection breaks up the energy & lifts, so that the energy doesn’t stagnate but continues to flow.