hands at dinner table

Gratitude, Grief and Sorrow Parties…

Here we are again in the holidays craze. These “holy-days” that are so hard if you’re in acute grief. My heart truly reaching towards yours.

And it all starts this week with Thanksgiving.

This year I invite you to be a grief rebel and be the one at the table that suggests we first go around and name one thing we are grieving. Then do another round of naming what we are grateful for.

My hypothesis with this tiny experiment is that the two will be intrinsically linked.

Here, I’ll give you a few examples…

I’m grieving my young eyeballs. I just ordered my first official pair of progressive lenses. I miss being able to see without wearing any kind of glasses. I miss being able to see close up – to read small writing and to see the beautiful details of all my friend’s faces.

AND, I’m so grateful that I even can see still at all. I’m so grateful I live in a time where I can get progressive lenses and that I have the ability to pay for them.

See, you see how linked they are?

Here’s another:

I am still grieving, and will continue to do so, for Michael’s able body and how easy it was to do anything together.

AND I’m grateful for my able body and all the amazing things it does for me such as simply getting out of bed, picking my nose and pooping.  (Yes, I had to name that, in my house no one takes that for granted anymore).

Okay, your turn…I wish I had a big table to hold you all and we could spend hours sharing first our grief, then our gratitude, and then a simple and delicious meal.

I would love to hear what happens at your gatherings. It might be a way to really drop in deep with each other. Grief is good at that, at dropping deep with peeps.

If you can’t do this on Thanksgiving, what would it be like to host a small gathering where the focus was to simply give space to grief. What if you invited it in like a revered guest? What if you gave it a voice and let it be witnessed and heard?

As I write those words, I notice my own nervous system settle in and relax. We work so hard in this culture to stuff grief away, stuff it down and hide it. We spend so much energy looking as if we are fine, when indeed we are not.

I think of my dear grief mentor Francis Weller, who I got to study with and do grief ritual with this past October.

Francis states that grief needs two things – containment and release. What he means by containment is an adequate holding space. We simply cannot do that by ourselves. And in this culture we are experts at keeping our grief to ourselves – we privatize grief. When we privatize grief, we don’t adequately release it.

What would happen if we allowed grief a space at the Thanksgiving dinner table, or a space on the dance floor, or a space in line at the grocery store, or a space at the party? Oh, what if we intentionally had a Sorrow Party?

Francis has inspired me to start these and I want to invite you to have one too. Will you join me in creating a rebellious movement to simply normalize grief? It happens to all of us, so let’s stop hiding it and name it instead.

Okay, here’s directions to host your own Sorrow Party:

-Let your peeps know that this will be a time to allow their grief to be seen, heard, witnessed.

-Keep it smallish, so 8-10 peeps max, so everyone can be heard.

-Invite them over for a simple meal.

-Invite your closest dearest friends and/or some of your newest friends, or you could branch out and invite your co-workers, acquaintances, or neighbors.

-If you are lucky to have them, invite a child or a teen to join your circle too. Allow the younger ones to come and go as they please. (Can you imagine a child growing up knowing we aired and shared our grief together?!)

-Let it be a potluck but an easy one.

-Suggest that people simply bring something from their fridge or pantry-a jar of olives, a box of crackers, remnants of cheese, half a loaf of bread. In other words-bring what you already have.

-If they don’t have any food to bring, let them simply come anyways.

-Put the kettle on and offer tea as guests arrive.

-Gather in a circle on the floor, your living room or around a table.

-Have someone begin the first round by naming something they are grieving and then go clockwise/counter clockwise around the circle.

-After they speak, you may simply say thank you. If they want feedback or advice, ask them later, the point of this first round is to give grief the space it has been craving – to be seen, heard, and witnessed by others.

-Then go around a second time and give them a choice to either name something else they are grieving or to name something they are grateful for.

-Go around as many times as you need or there is time for.

-After everyone has spoken, then share the food together and simply delight in socializing and sharing a meal together.

I so want to start this practice in my own home. I want this to become a normal activity-to normalize grief in this way.

So this is my offering to you this Thanksgiving. I give you permission to speak your truth, to name your grief with your peeps.
For that I am truly grateful – to know that my words are creating more depth of space within your own bodies, within your own homes and your communities.

So, I will continue on my own grief revolution and thanks for being a part of it with me.

Humbly and rebelliously yours,

Beth aka the Grief Freak