Enjoy this thoughtful discussion about grief as we move into another holiday season.
My guest Francis Weller is a psychotherapist and the author of the book The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief. He discusses the importance of engaging grief in our personal lives and as a community and shares stories of the power of grief-work to change our lives. Learn more about his work at his website:
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Why honoring grief is necessary to save the planet.
Learn how grief over the death of loved one is compounded by other losses that occur simultaneously.
In this episode I share a conversation with Rev. Terri Daniel about the “other grief” that occurs throughout life with or without the death of a loved one. We’ll talk about this hidden grief and why it is important to acknowledge it as an important part of life.
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In this interview Rev. Terri Daniel and I talk about the big picture of grief throughout life’s transitions and how it often goes unnoticed as we focus primarily on grief after a death occurs. We talk about:
Continuing Bonds Theory
“Other” types of loss
Four additional types of grief
The need for ritual and ceremony to process grief
Are there avoidable vs. unavoidable losses?
Rev. Terri Daniel is a clinical chaplain and end-of-life educator certified in death, dying and bereavement by the Association of Death Education and Counseling. Her work focuses on assisting dying and grieving individuals to discover a more spiritually-spacious understanding of loss and trauma.
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Learn how travel can provide a “safe container” for healing grief and loss.
In this episode I’ll share my own insights into how the experience of travel can help with the process of grief. This is also the subject of the new book I’m writing (I did research for it on my recent trip to Italy) … I’ll share a brief overview here!
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During several of my travel experiences in the past I have been dealing with grief and have found the process of travel to be helpful. On one trip to Italy, my husband and I learned of the death of our brother-in-law on the day we arrived in Venice. Unable to cancel the rest of our trip and return home immediately, which we wanted to do, we stumbled through the remainder of the vacation and managed to make peace with our pain.
Here are some of my “takeaways” about how travel can help with grief:
Permission to wander aimlessly. On our Venice trip we canceled all of our sightseeing plans and activities. We started each day with a totally clean slate and just wandered the streets and canals of the city all day long. By following our intuition and our broken hearts we were able to enter into our grief without distraction or attachment. Had we been at home with family we would have felt obligated to “do something” and “be somewhere” but because we were traveling we were free of all expectations.
Seeing the big picture. Because we were freed up from the details of our daily life at home, we found more space to explore grief from a “trans-personal” perspective, as something bigger than just our own individual lives. Experiencing grief in another country allowed us to:
Recognize that all people, everywhere, experience the death of loved ones. Our mortality and the grief it causes us is the interconnecting thread that binds us to all of humanity.
Go deep into history. By visiting ancient ruins we can see that all of humankind, throughout history has dealt with the pain of loss and struggled to make peace with death. Our experience of grief is just one part of a vast “whole” picture of human loss.
Surrendering to grief to find joy within. As travelers “stuck” in another country even though we wanted to be home, we had no choice but to surrender to the pain that engulfed us. When we allowed grief to find a home within (and even “became” a living embodiment of grief) we also discovered a startling capacity for simple joy over the beauty of being alive. I’ve written this before: suffering hollows us out so that we can contain an even greater measure of joy … and also love.
Understanding impermanence. Strolling through cemeteries, relics and ruined structures of the past illustrated to me perfectly that everything that exists in the physical realm is impermanent and will one day dissolve away. Only love and the energy of life persist eternally. And it is the depth of the love we experience for others that causes the magnitude of pain we feel upon their deaths. Grief is one of the visible manifestations of love in the physical realm.
Learning how to navigate in unfamiliar territory. On our “grief trip” in Venice we simply wandered every day until we were hopelessly lost. We took in everything around us along the way–noticing all the colors and sounds and fragrances of life. And when we felt ready to return “home” we studied our maps to figure out where we were and to slowly find our way back to more familiar territory. This skill of navigating in the unknown will prove to be very helpful to us throughout life and especially during our own dying process as we struggle to get back to a home we can’t remember.
I hope you will take the opportunity to travel some day, even when you are experiencing grief, to experience the profound benefits it can offer!
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Find out how a psychiatrist is successfully helping veterans with unhealed trauma by using alternative practices.
In this episode I am featuring an interview from the Death & Afterlife Summit with Dr. Jeff Black, a psychiatrist who uses unconventional methods to successfully treat trauma in veterans. A few clips of this interview were featured in the Suicide Series and I wanted to share the entire interview with you.
As a follow-up to the Suicide SeriesI want to further address the issue of suicide in veterans: at this time 22 veterans take their own lives every day. This statistic is a heartbreaking tragedy and it’s time we work hard to help heal the emotional and spiritual burden that veterans bring home from war. Dr. Black and others describe the aftermath of trauma as “soul loss” and he uses shamanic rituals to help his patients recover the pieces of their souls that have been taken away by war.
In Episode 92 I performed a Fire Ceremony for my father to heal his wounds and to release my grief. This was recommended to me by Dr. Black and during the ceremony I felt the power of ritual to transform our losses into grace. I hope you enjoy this conversation with Dr. Jeff Black.
Tune in every Monday for a new episode! Until the next time …
This episode is dedicated to the memory of Rev. Maria Dancing Heart Hoaglund, hospice chaplain and spiritual counselor who authored the books The Last Adventure of Life: Sacred Resources for Living and Dying from a Hospice Counselor and The Most Important Day of Your Life: Are You Ready? Maria died tragically after being struck by a car while walking in a crosswalk.
Maria has been a beloved member of the end-of-life community and in this episode Dr. Wyatt shares her personal recollections of Maria, reads excerpts from Maria’s books and plays a clip from Maria’s interview for End-of-Life University in 2013. Whether or not you have met Maria in the past, you will become acquainted with her beautiful soul and enlightened spiritual wisdom through the messages in this episode.
Many blessings to all who love Maria and feel the pain of her absence in this physical plane. Maria left a beautiful legacy for each and every one of us that will continue to guide and inspire our work for the future.