I recently went up to Northampton, Massachusetts, to visit with one of my best friends.
It was great to be back as I used to live there. One of the highlights was being invited to a “grief and release” party.
Maybe that sounds strange, but let me tell you about the party host Michelle and why I was excited to participate.
Michelle knows a thing or two about grief, loss and letting go. Plus, she and I share a best friend, I wanted to get to know her better and support her. I felt honored to be invited.
Michelle went through Stage 3 breast cancer treatment last year. She did ALL the treatment: double mastectomy, radiation and chemotherapy.
She found her telltale lump the same day that she and her partner of 15 years split up.
Honestly, who hasn’t gone through grief this past year and a half?
The party was an intimate group of about a dozen people. Everyone had been vaccinated and we met outside in Michelle’s backyard. She had note cards, and invited us to write down what we wanted to release.
In the center of the yard was a roaring fire pit. Michelle had us circle up and invited us to read our cards, if we so choose, and then burn them in the flames.
Speaking my grief out loud, and holding space for the stories of others felt connecting. Maybe it was easier to share because almost everyone was a stranger, but I felt less alone.
After smoldering our cards, we danced! (Michelle had asked us to each contribute two songs to the playlist, which was such a fun idea.)
I recently heard this definition of grief on a podcast:
Grief = An umbrella term for thoughts and feelings about loss.
As a culture, we are terrified of dealing with grief. It makes people uncomfortable.
It’s as if we should just have these feelings for a little while, and then “get over it.”
From my own experience of grieving both my parents, I learned that grief comes in waves. Sometimes a reminder such as a song, object or even a season can trigger an unexpected crash.
In WILL, we honor grief. There’s loss of leaving a job or even, the profession. There’s letting go of identity, dreams and who you though you might be.
On this week’s Community Call – part of the program where I lead a virtual gathering of Members to share celebrations and guide your progress – Members spoke about connection, breaking isolation and persistence.
Moving beyond grief is easier in community. You are seen and witnessed. Lifeguards grab your hand and dive through the waves by your side.
I invite you to write ALL the things you are grieving and want to release. Burn that up.