What exactly IS a grief ceremony?

Around November of 2017, I heard about a grief ceremony for the first time through my Nature Based Coach Training. I had inquired about grief work because I had never heard of it but was intrigued when one of the founders of the program described for me a grief ceremony he had attended. My body shivered and I got that deep sense of knowing in my gut that said, “you must bring this to life here in your community.” It took a few months but eventually I held my first sacred grief ceremony. It was powerful and moving. Not just for the ones participating but for me as well. I decided to hold another one, then another one and now, I continue to host these sacred ceremonies the first Saturday of every month at The Seed to Star Collective.

The first question I usually get asked is, “what exactly is a grief ceremony?” followed up with “what do you do there?”

A grief ceremony is just that, a ceremony that honors your grief and allows you to express it freely without judgement. Most times the grief that wishes to be released has little to do with a loved ones passing. It is often a deep sense of who we thought we would be, or what we expected our relationships to look like when they are not that at all. Sometimes it is loss of an opportunity and other times, it can be loss of a physical location or thing that we held emotional ties with.

At these ceremonies, we all sit in a circle around some candles and whatever else I feel called to include in the center, maybe some nature or crystals. I set up a pillow in front of the candles and whoever is expressing their grief sits in the honored space. The rest of us sit quietly by and witness. Occasionally, myself or another in the group receives a message for the griever and we will share that, but mostly we sit in silence. This is a judgement free, safe space. What is shared here, stays here.

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I begin and end the ceremony with breathwork/meditation and gratitude as these feel like essential components in a ceremony to me. There is a short break near the end as the amount of energy that grief takes up can be overwhelming and sometimes we just need to walk it off. The ending meditation is just one more piece to ensure that we come back to ourselves and get grounded before heading back out in to the world.

As far as what to expect when you grieve, every persons share is different. One person may cry throughout, another may rage. There has been laughter, howling, whispers and even letters written. This is an anything goes space. I am not here to tell you how to grieve, just give you the safe space to do your own version of grieving, whatever that looks like.

My intention is for the ceremony not to be completed until I feel that the energy surrounding each of us feels lighter. That you feel freer and less congested. That the weight of your grief is relieved, even if it’s only by a small bit. Sometimes, the grief we carry is so large, it can only be unpacked little by little. And, that is ok.

Over the year since beginning this work, I have seen incredible shifts in the people that have had the courage to show up. This work is not for the faint of heart. When you are ready though, know that I will be waiting with open arms, a warm blanket, and compassionate witnessing.

To sign up for next month’s grief ceremony, purchase your ticket at Eventbrite here.

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