Kinship with Grief
Kinship: The quality or state of being kin.
We invite you to explore these invitations to deepen your kinship with grief.
The intention is to inspire personal exploration of loss of any kind through sensuous, embodied relationship.
Grief is relational.
What can our bodies know beyond the limits of the rational mind?
We encourage you to listen in and engage with the practices that feel supportive. This offering is intended to grow as we discover opportunities along the way that help us remember parts of us we have forgotten.
Feet upon the Earth
An invitation to explore what it might mean to feel into being in the body.
Many of us have experiences that have made it unsafe to be in our bodies. The journey back in might take time, attention and a very slow approach.
This very simple practice is one that we use often, as it is gentle and relatively accessible. If you don't have grass or outdoor space, allow yourself to try this in your home on the floor. If standing is not an option, sit and explore your feet against a hard surface. Be creative and gentle.
Place your feet on the ground or surface of choice. Find your breath by just paying attention to your inhale and exhale. Breathe slowly and deeply.
As you feel ready, begin to rotate your feet upon the earth or surface, and tell yourself silently or out loud, that you are here, you are held.
"I am here, I am held"
This practice can be as long or as short as you like.
Explore, be curious and offer yourself grace.
Speaking to the Earth
We invite you to do this practice alone or ask someone you trust to witness, to silently hold space for you.
This is a common practice among many cultures around the world. Simply find a space in nature that feels safe, perhaps a corner of your yard or garden, or a place in greater nature, such as a forest, a river or a beach.
Dig a small opening in the earth or sand large enough to speak or cry into.
Feel the earth below you, supporting all of your weight.
Speak your grief into the earth.
Feel the earth holding you and your grief.
You may choose to lie down, to cry, or scream your grief into the earth.
When you finish, fill the hole back up, returning it to its former shape. Consider offering your gratitude to the earth for holding you, always.
Creating Earth Altars
In his gorgeous book, 'Morning Altars', Day Schildkret shares how he nurtured a kinship with grief by creating earth altars.
"I took the heartache I felt and employed it to make something beautiful each morning for a solid month. I felt like I was placing my grief on an altar and letting it go. An altar's purpose is to sanctify something and offer it up to a higher source. And without even thinking about it, that's what I was doing with my grief"
Schildkret goes on to confess that he was gifted with curiosity, wonder and blessing after making morning altars. He also experienced an increased connection with the place where he lived. His daily practice
offered a kinship with grief that made his life more meaningful.
"Most significantly this practice was weaving me and the place I called home into a deeply purposeful and generous relationship. I was belonging more to and becoming more of this place in ways I had never before. The altars bound my heart, hands, and home more closely together."
Shildkret notes that the practice has helped him belong to something greater than himself. As well, it has deepened relations with the "greater-than-human world through a sense of wonder, play & reverence." What a beautiful reminder of our enduring connection to the earth and each other.
Taking in beauty can be something we take for granted in our busy lives. Pausing with intention to receive the beauty around us can deliver us into the present moment and it can also be a supportive practice to deepen our Kinship with grief. The next time grief arises, you can consider this simple practice.
Find something that you consider beautiful nearby. If you are outside, maybe it's a plant or flower, patch of grass, or the sky. If you are inside, it could be a house plant, picture, piece of art, or even a wall colour or textile - listening in and allow your inner wisdom to lead you.
Take a few breaths to tap into the moment and yourself.
When you feel ready, focus your gaze on the beauty in front of you.
Take it in features - the shapes, colours, size, etc.
Be aware of your breath, and notice if the emotions arising as you gaze lovingly at this thing of beauty in front of you.
A Self-Guided Wild Grief Wander
We invite you to go for a wander, somewhere as wild as possible.
Walk slowly, doing what you can to cultivate a felt sense of presence.
As you wander, complete this sentence, either out loud or silently:
“The ________ of my grief journey.”
Here are some examples:
“The high tides of my grief journey.”
“The unmarked path of my grief journey.”
“The wind gusts of my grief journey.”
“The flowing stream of my grief journey.”
“The birdsong of my grief journey.”
“The spiral shape of my grief journey.”
Simply say the sentences. Try not to analyze or intellectualize the metaphors, open up and feel them in your heart before considering the next one.
Try doing this for about 10 minutes.
Notice what you are noticing.
The Beauty of Brokenness
A thematic map of your fault lines.
This invitation from "Geography of Loss" by Patti Digh is created to honour the spirit of kintsugi, a beautiful practice originating from Japan that is used to fix broken ceramics. Kintsugi translates into "golden joinery", in this practice a lacquer resin made to look like solid gold is used to repair broken objects. This process results in damaged vessels appearing more precious and aesthetically complex than before. Digh encourages readers to map their landscape, and create a thematic map of fault lines.
Memory: Start with this five minute journal prompt: List the "fires" in which you have been annealed in your life. Events that melted you followed by cooler times that reshaped you - this is a process of expanding, contracting and repeating.
Maybe you recall death of a loved one, or pet, health scares, friendships ending or your identity shifting followed by periods of travel or rest. Make your own list and look at it again. What are the hottest fires that you have experienced?
To honour the spirit of kintsugi, draw a geological strata map in which layers represent periods of your life. Where are the fault lines? Those life events that you journaled about. Draw them in gold on your map, and name in them in a key below your map, representing the moments of breaking open.
Digh so gorgeously instructs readers to look at their map and see the "gold" in it - all the ways in which you have been broken and mended.
Meditation: Sit with your writing and your image for 5 minutes. Discover what you discover, notice what you notice.
Grief & Food
In my kinship with grief, food and cooking play a leading roll. When a grief wave crushes me, I am often thrown the life raft from a craving, a desire, a need for a certain dish, or for the action of cooking something for those I love or even just me. I can take a bite of something and be overcome with grief, longing for someone, or some place in time I no longer exist in.
For so many of us food holds layers of connection - to our living and relating. Our relationships to our cultures are expressed through food - where we live or have lived, our experiences. I could write volumes about my connection with food and life, pehaps you could too.
Recently, on a particularly griefy day, I was feeling lonely. This happens in autumn - I long for the past, I long for home, for family, for community as I live far away from where I grew up. Sometimes I realize in my longing I am grieving a life I never had in the first place. It's complicated, real, and bittersweet.
So on this day, I made a dish that filled my home with comfort, that held the components of tart and sweet and soothed my longing and reminded me that my grief is valid and true and I am OK too.
I poured my heart, my tears, my longing, my grief, and my love into this apple cranberry crisp. Hoping to fill my loved ones and myself with joy and gratitude.