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.

Let’s talk about Larry Nassar’s innocence

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As we continue the conversation about sex abuse and harassment, it is our natural inclination to want to place the blame on someone.

“The Harvey Weinstein’s of the world are bad.” “Larry Nassar is a monster.” “Any man who can treat a woman with such little respect is no man at all.”

Oh my God, yes, these men must face the consequences of their actions, no doubt.

But, once a movement comes along like #metoo, a general blame begins to happen. We begin to see how society has created a space where women are not to be treated as equal. We see how it has become generally acceptable for men to treat women like objects and disregard their needs. Women have adapted to this society by silencing our voice and treating ourselves the same way. Being made aware of this we will tolerate it no longer. This leads to all men being scrutinized and potentially regarded as ‘the enemy’.

Movements create change, and I thank God for the brave women bringing awareness to this inequality.

We must be careful, though. This can also lead to so much blame. Blaming the society, blaming those in power, and possibly even holding some silent blame toward our neighbors and friends. Maybe even our spouses.

Blame only leads to one thing. Shame. Shame doesn’t want to be acknowledged or seen. It wants to hide in the shadows and play a magic trick of ‘you can’t see me’. And, it wants to redirect your attention by showing you who else to accuse for your pain. Men may become ashamed of the ways in which they were raised and question their own integrity which leads to more blame of society. Women may become ashamed that they allowed anyone to treat them as inferior which leads to more blame of those who treated them this way.

It is our time now more than anything to bring shame to light. To acknowledge as women when we are blaming others blindly without acknowledging the humanity of who they are. For men to acknowledge that they can and will do better now that they know better.

We owe it to the next generations. Look at the face in this picture. This is my son. (With my other son behind him.) Look at his sweet innocence. The Harvey’s and Larry’s of this world once lived in this sweet innocence too. We must not forget that.

Together with my husband (whom I have placed so much blame on that at times I forgot the truth of who he was) we will teach these boys to listen to and respect women. To listen to their own hearts. To follow what they know to be true and in integrity with themselves regardless of what society wants them to believe. We will have hard conversations with them about the current state of the country right now, how it got to be this way, and what we can do to make the change.

Hopefully in the next 10 years, men and women together can bring enough shame to light that my boys will be encouraged to treat everyone they encounter as equal. But, if not, my husband and I will know that we have done what we could to change the course of history and create a new society.

A new society where we truly see one another’s hearts, not gender, not race, not religion, not stories about who the other might be, but their hearts which reflect their oneness with us.

How to create change:

  1. Feel your pain.
  2. Acknowledge your shame.
  3. Speak your truth.

Together we can do hard things.

All The Feels

I was talking with an intuitive coach who I admire the other day. I reached out to her for guidance and help because starting a business is tough. Starting a heart-centered business, even tougher. We had a great chat and I feel grateful that I was willing to be vulnerable and reach out to her in the first place.

As we were talking, I asked if she felt the way that I do after having a session with a client. I then proceeded to tell her what that felt like for me. She said, “You should write about that! People would love to know that.” Huh. I have been going crazy wondering where I would get content for my site and sometimes the thing we are looking for is right under our noses.

I have worked with over 50 clients with a total of over 75 hours. It truly is my happy place. I get nervous before I begin. What will I recommend? What if I don’t give them what they want? What if I’m not enough? What if I can’t connect with my intuition? Then I move into my breath and remember that the work does not come from me.

As I move into the session, I allow for Spirit/God/Energy/Love to work through me. There is no thought just compassionate listening and guided advice. The conversation is fluid, loving, and peaceful. If I recognize a disturbance in this peace, I return the two of us back to our breath. For, it’s in the breath that we remember who we are.

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When the session is over, I feel more alive than at any other time. I feel an immense swell of gratitude, for my client, for the universe, for my gifts, and my purpose in this world. My heart feels so full it threatens to spill over. My energy soars and I feel in that moment like I could run a marathon. I often take a moment to sit with that feeling. To savor it and create a memory that I can return to when things inevitably get tough in my life.

I know that I am meant to lift others up. To heal, inspire, and gently nudge them into a higher state of being. What a gift I have been blessed with. I thank God everyday for this life I have been chosen to live.

In light and love,

Melinda