Sunset spiral rock circle

Tend the Circle, Tend Ourselves

The rock spiral that I created near my house keeps getting messed up. Someone keeps fucking with it, and essentially fucking with me.

And that’s the way life is right now so it’s actually ironically perfect.

The world is so fucked up in many ways…and I simply keep putting the circle back together, not in its original spiral, but in a different shape. And each time I do this, it’s an act of prayer for everything that’s falling apart.

We cannot go back to the way the world once was, the shape of us is morphing as we breathe. And that’s what grief does-it changes you forever. 

Last week while putting the stones carefully back into some kind of order, an older couple came along and noticed what I was doing. They’ve seen this spiral before and said, “We’ve never seen it so messed up, thanks for putting it back together.”

I said, “You’re so welcome, it’s my pleasure. It’s really a metaphor for the planet right now, so as long as it keeps getting destroyed, I’ll keep putting it back together.”

And I invited them to help me put the shape back together, should they find it destroyed again.

Another reminder that we can’t do this alone; we need each other for this rebuild.

We talked a little longer and she disclosed that she’d been dealing with breast cancer. My eyes glanced down briefly to see her concave chest; and I became keenly aware of my own grief beginning to well up. She told me that coming to this spiral helps with her own recent grief journey.

It brought it deeper in, that these small and simple practices that I’m tending to, are able to spread ripples of kindness and peace in our world right now.

So I’ll keep tending to this circle of life and hope that keeps shifting and morphing, as does the world, as do I and my offerings.

Recently I received humbling feedback about my grief rituals-that what I was offering was “dangerous.” It left one person with more rawness than when they started. I’m sorry for that and I’m so sorry if I’ve ever unintentionally harmed anyone else.

I recently learned about the 6th gate of grief, the first 5 gates are written by Francis Weller, and the sixth gate was illuminated by a woman named Rachael Rice, and it’s the harms we done to others.

I want to do better, so I took this feedback in.

It inspired me to take a deep look at this offering and make it better. And to be honest I am learning that ritual is best done in person. But for now that is a challenge during Covid, so I will do the best I can with our current situation.  

I also realized that people need more grief support and that I want to reach more of them. And I need your help to do this… 

So, I’m pausing these grief rituals for now so that I can craft something else that I think is  amazing. Starting in Mid-October, I’ll be offering grief support for the grief supporters-the ones like me who are overwhelmed with their caseloads because their clients keep showing up with more and more grief.

Here is the info and link to the program:https://p.bttr.to/3jdj4s6

Please spread this to any therapists you may know who may be needing more support right now. By taking this program, they’ll also learn how I work with grief. My hope is that more and more therapists will become grief literate. It’s called “Tending the Tenders”, and I just love that.

The grief ritual in October (10/24) is special-I have an amazing co-ritual-er, my friend and colleague Victor Warring. We are focusing on Erotic Grief as he is a Somatic Sexuality & Relationship Educator, Erotic Permaculturist, and an Anti-Oppression Community Educator.  https://www.facebook.com/victor.warring

So we’ll focus on the loss of intimacy and connection with ourselves, each other, and the natural world. Stay tuned for a link in October for that ritual.

After that I’ll be pausing with the monthly grief rituals due to the traditional holiday season. I’m also aware that I want to hold these practices on alternating Saturdays/Sundays. I want to accommodate those of you who practice Jewish Shabbat.

I no longer want to create micro-aggressions to my Jewish friends. So I’m sorry for that in the past. I’m not having a ritual at the end of September to honor the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hoshanna and Yom Kippur. So, Happy New Year to you all!

To wrap this up-I want to give you some simple practices at this time to cope better. 

So here’s what’s keeping me together:

  • Breathing: start by noticing where your breath is. Then take an inhale for 3 counts and hold at the top. Then let it go for 3 and hold at the bottom for a count or two. I call this breath the “super power breath” because you can do it anytime, anywhere. Here is a video from my Online DIY grief Relief program where I guide you through it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=7&v=LWuf8iP4DQA&feature=emb_logo
  • Breathing allows us to come into our bodies. So next I invite you to notice where your body is connected to your chair or the floor. Is your back touching something? Take a moment to also feel your feet. And if you are not able bodied, then do your best to imagine these simple sensations.
  • Move your anger through the five end points-your arms, your legs and your throat. Make sound, grunt, scream if you can safely, (let others know what you are doing, and heck, invite them to scream with you).
  • Allow yourself to cry.
  • Connect with others.
  • Find pleasure and beauty. It’s essential. Read “Pleasure Activism by this amazing woman: http://adriennemareebrown.net/
  • Take action. Black Lives Still Matter. Follow me on Instagram as I post ways to take action-calls to make, where to donate if you have extra funds, etc.
  • Protest if you can and you feel called. But do it safely and if you can’t be on the front lines support someone who can be-order take-out for them.
  • Learn about your nervous systems so you can continue to take care of yourself as our world continues with the collapse of so much. I could do an entire post just on this!
  • Go out in nature and begin to have a relationship with the land and the other than human beings that hold and surround you. Give back with an offering like water, or your hair, or flowers; say thank you and say other prayers of gratefulness at this time.
  • Hugs Trees. I leave you now to do just that.

More and more this work I do feels like a personal and collective revolution, and I certainly can’t do that alone. So thanks for being out there.

 Beth Erlander aka The Grief Freak/Friend 

 These are intense times, we need to have more compassion and kindness to ourselves, each other, and the planet.  I hope you are well. And remember to grieve well, so we can be well.

Thanks for being here.