“Grief is praise of those we have lost. Our own souls who have loved and are now heartbroken would turn to stone and hate us if we did not show such praise when we lose whom we love. A nonfake grieving is how we praise the dead, by praising that which has left us feeling cold and left behind. By the event of our uncontrolled grief, wail, and rap, we are also simultaneously praising with all our hearts the life we have been awarded to live, the life that gave us the health and opportunity of having lived fully enough to love deep enough to feel the loss we now grieve. To not grieve is a violence to the Divine and our own hearts and especially to the dead. If we do not grieve what we miss, we are not praising what we love. We are not praising the life we have been given in order to love. If we do not praise whom we miss, we are ourselves in some way dead. So grief and praise make us alive.” Martin Pretchel
I remember her as beautiful and kind, as a light and a leader at school. From a big family, she was known and loved. The summer she died, I read her obituary over and over. She was there the last day of school, and now she was gone. She would not be buying backpacks with us or pencil cases, no Trapper Keepers, no 5 star notebooks. She was dead.
A.’s death rocked my little 10 year old world and she became the first person I remember actively grieving, honoring with tears in bed. The first young person I knew who died, the first time I realized you did not have to be “ old” to die.
Last weekend, I had the pleasure, privilege and HONOR to attend the Institute for Birth, Breath and Death retreat in Asheville. I have been a member with the Institute for a while now, taking some of the courses around shadow work in healing professionals, holding space for abortion loss, world religions, and more.
The Institute partners with the Center for Conscious Living and Dying(CCLD), which I was thrilled to learn more about, as some of you know, I’ve been dreaming of starting some sort of death collective here in DC- and was excited about being in community with other death/ grief professionals to hear about possible collaborations, innovations and of course, the LOGISTICS of creating all of these things!
As a Death Doula and Grief Educator, I have been offering Death Cafes since 2020 and Community Grief Circles & Rituals on topics such as The Living Eulogy, Writing our Obituary, Backwards Mapping Our Life, and responding to grief in real time with communal experiences and gatherings. Expanding, opening, increasing and elevating the conversations around death, dying and grief are very important to me and I belive the healing and liberation of all of us.
Being in dynamic evolving relationships with grief practices and death conversations has impacted my daily life in countless ways- including cultivating an increased sense of awe and wonder about the mystery we are all in, connecting my relationships more deeply AND it has given me a great steady, stable foundation for LIVING, which I think, is just so divine.
The more I study dying, the more I love living- what a miracle!
The retreat gathering was something so special- the people, the land, the care, the attention- the yoga and the music was all just harmonious and in flow. I am grateful.
I met incredible humans who care so deeply about a good death, good grief and good living. What a gift!
The Sanctuary is a place of respite that is owned by CCLD and is a place where people can go and have Community end of life care. It’s also an AIRBNB to support the center and enjoy the incredible land.
You can learn more about this kind of work, community and care, here.
I hope you will spend some time on these sites, and join these communities if they feel aligned in any way. WE CAN DO THIS TOGETHER.
To be part of the DC community on living and dying- you can subscribe here.
My podcast- on death/ grief practices
CCLD- Center for Conscious Living and Dying
IBBD- Institute for Birth, Breath and Death
May we journey together in sacred presence,
through all the beautiful and HARD parts of life and death-
May we grieve together, cry together, love together and hold hands as we flow and grow.