In this time of constant change and unprecedented loss, it's important that we create space to share our grief. Not as a way to fix anything or to give advice, but as a brave step to honor our loss and the grieving process. I hope that you will join me, along with others, in this soul care.
We are each grieving the changes brought about due to COVID-19. How we grieve the death of a loved one has changed. We find ourselves grieving "normalcy" and life pre-COVID. Some of us have lost work and income. Some have lost their sense of stability. And some are grieving what they had hoped and planned.
My work for nearly 20 years has been sitting with, and using art and poetry as tools to assist, those who are grieving and in the "in between" of a life transition. I know firsthand the power of shared, nonjudgemental brave space. So whereas this offering is not a traditional "support group" or a "therapy circle," my intention is that our time together will help give those who come an opportunity to be seen and held as a part of our collective and individual grieving journey.
There is no rushing grief. And sometimes we can't even understand it. In America, we are often taught to suppress the pain of grief, if not numb it, only to have it come up years later in what may be destructive ways. My hope is that we will take the time to be still, reflective, intentional about paying attention to the loss. It's heavy work, I know, but it is also necessary.
I am thankful to have others who serve alongside me in preparing for this gathering and who will be within the circle as small group facilitators. They are:
T. Sharee Fowler, PhD Community facilitator & Assistant Professor/Director Nonprofit Management & Community Leadership Program at Salem College
Cara Hagen Gelber Artist, educator, community organizer and a Department of Theatre and Dance, Appalachian State University faculty member
Terrance Hawkins Community organizer, speaker, and artist
Carla Kucinski Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Associate (LCMHCA) Owner of Space to Heal Counseling and Wellness, PLLC
And, I want to recognize Jennifer Hord Reda, who will be holding space during our time together; and Keren Johnson, who will be monitoring the chat board and answering questions that may come up there. Thanks to them both!
What you can expect
Our 90-minutes together will begin in our "large circle" where I will lead us in an opening, grounding exercise. There will be brief introductions of the facilitators and reminder of "housekeeping." This time together will set the stage for what's to come.
Then, you will be placed in a small group based on the loss you identify in the RSVP form below (some groups will be capped). The majority of the time will be spent in these small groups to allow for more intimate sharing. Each facilitator will come up with their way of working with the group based on their experience and your needs. Some will give prompts in which all or some of you may be asked to respond. Some may have a brief writing activity. Some may ask you to share your story.
After your time sharing in your small group, we will come back together in our "large circle." Here, we will have time for brief reflections before hearing words as part of our closing from Carla.
We are aware that some may feel the need for additional support during our gathering that our facilitators are not trained to provided or that people pay not feel comfortable talking about in a group. Therefore, before the gathering, we will send a link in our email to private available sessions with Dr. Shawn Ricks, licensed counselor, Wellspring Healing, that will be held in conjunction with this circle.
In addition, we will follow up with participants via email with resources should they want to dive deeper or need support after our time together. This list of resources will be on our website, too.
And, yes, this is free and open to the public.
What you might want to bring to the grieving circle
Come comfortably dressed (we don't care if you're in your pjs) and consider having with:
Something to hold such as a stone, memento or an object that has special meaning to you (to help calm or feel grounded/supported)
A box of tissues
A tall glass of water
A blanket or favorite sweater
Pen and paper
Thank you and I hope to see you, Jacinta
By participating, you would be agreeing to:
Compassionately listen. Keep an open heart and ears. Not give advice to those who haven't asked. Share space with others instead of take space.
Inclusive community. Release any judgements you might have of others based on race, religion, beliefs, age, gender, sexual identity, ability, and the like. We will not tolerate any hatred or discrimination as we create this community.
Confidentiality. Share, if you desire to, with others outside of the circle what the experience was like for you but not what was said/shared by others. In addition, we will not record nor go live on social media with this event on social media and will expect the same from you.
We also encourage you to:
Carve out time. Block this time on your calendar and commit to finding a quiet place, if possible, to be uninterrupted during the gathering (silence your phone, close apps on your computer, close the door).And to give yourself time afterwards to rest.
Cancel. Let us know if you realized after you RSVP that you're not going to be able to make the gathering.
Disclaimer: The Virtual Grieving Circle is not a substitute for mental health treatment. Please let your current healthcare professional (e.g. doctor, counselor, etc.) know that you're participating in the group. This circle should not replace any mental or medical assistance you receive or need. The Word Project nor those volunteering as facilitators for the grieving circle are responsible for the words and conduct of others. Though our intention and work is to protect everyone involved, it is ultimately the responsibility of each individual to ensure their proper mental, emotional and physical care. If you don't think this circle is right for you but you feel the need for additional support at this time, please speak with your doctor or a counselor about other available resources in your community.
Wait By Galway Kinnell
Wait, for now. Distrust everything if you have to. But trust the hours. Haven’t they carried you everywhere, up to now? Personal events will become interesting again. Hair will become interesting. Pain will become interesting. Buds that open out of season will become interesting. Second-hand gloves will become lovely again; their memories are what give them the need for other hands. The desolation of lovers is the same: that enormous emptiness carved out of such tiny beings as we are asks to be filled; the need for the new love is faithfulness to the old. Wait. Don’t go too early. You’re tired. But everyone’s tired. But no one is tired enough. Only wait a little and listen: music of hair, music of pain, music of looms weaving our loves again. Be there to hear it, it will be the only time, most of all to hear your whole existence, rehearsed by the sorrows, play itself into total exhaustion.