What a week.
I have just finished a 4 day intensive course with Dr. Wolfelt. It was an amazing week. These retreats are just that - a re-treat away from my normal daily life and tasks. All our needs are taken care of here - warm, cozy beds, good food, any amenity you need. It is nice to come and dedicate 4 days to inspirational learning, being amongst wonderful people, and much needed self care.
Reflecting upon the last 4 days, I am most humbled by the safety and security I found among a group of people who started off as strangers, but who quickly became friends. True heart friends. The unconditional love in our group was palpable.
I cried, a lot. Even almost fainted once (that story is for a different time). Laughed. Cried some more. Laughed some more. Gave and received a lot of hugs and hand holds. Provided a listening ear, and shared my stories. Shared yoga. All of this under an umbrella of safety, truth, and unfolding of all of our own experiences.
I will leave here with more understanding of myself, and more understanding of how to support life and death in others.
For now, off to bed. I'm exhausted.
"This is thy hour O soul, thy free flight into the wordless. Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done. The fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the themes thou lovest best. Night, sleep and the stars." – Walt Whitman (1819-1892)
This will just be a short post tonight, as I just got back from an Election Gala that was being held in the hotel, that we attended (OK, crashed might be a better description of our involvement)....which by the way, was very exciting and moving. The passion people exude (about anything, really) gives me the shivers and moves me to emotion. It was one of those nights - cheering, shouting, clapping...electric. We may have had a few beers - meeting the emotional tone of the room and all! Anyway, I'm exhausted - it's been an emotional day. Learning, reflecting, listening, sharing, feeling....it's a lot of work!
Today we talked about the importance and the practice of active listening and attending to what people are saying. Much of the details aside, we learnt and practiced these skills. Even though I knew that my partners were practicing skills associated with attentive, active and engaged listening and counselling, it sure felt good to be listened to! And, I mean really listened to - where it wasn't only about the content - but heard the emotion and deeper meaning. That in and of itself is healing.
David Oxberg said, "Being listened to, is so close to being loved that most people cannot tell the difference.
It's that simple, and that challenging.
"A bereaved person's life is like a piece of paper upon which every passerby has the dangerous opportunity to leave a mark." - Alan Wolfelt
This is the quote on the top of the first page of the package we received for the 4 day intensive training I am currently taking in Fort Collins Colorado with Alan Wolfelt and the Center for Loss. I keep reading it over and over. It is SO (scarily) true. I suppose it's also the reason that I am taking my Grief Studies Certificate with Alan Wolfelt and the Center for Loss; I want to meld what I have learnt in my own heart through my own losses, with fundamental skills that will support, hold, and create space for others to grieve and mourn in their own way and their own time...in other words, I want to leave a positive mark on a bereaved person's grief and mourning experience(s).
It's impossible to attend intensive retreats and trainings like this without attending to, and experiencing my own losses in new ways and at new depths. These weeks away are deep and inspiring. I am amongst a group of 24 heart-ful caregivers with such amazing gifts of compassion and service...I'm honoured to be here. I've been eagerly anticipating this course since the last one I attended in March 2012.
I was reminded last night, in my attempt to get here, that there are things in life we cannot control. After flight delays, missed connections, and changed routes, I arrived a full 13 hours after I left my house. I don't think I really arrived mentally and emotionally, until this evening. I think parts of me were in Edmonton, Minneapolis, Phoenix, and Denver! I recognized this feeling of un-groundedness and cured it this afternoon with a walk amongst the trees, a 30 minute yoga practice, brief meditation and some journalling about my day. To celebrate arriving fully, I ordered a plate of hot wings and glass of wine from room service. Balance and moderation, right?!
I hope to blog each day about my time here - reflections, insights, learnings, etc.
For now, I'll end with saying that I hope I can leave marks upon people's lives that are supportive, encouraging and genuine...I also hope that I can take this time here in Colorado to receive support, and knowledge so I can spread it further and beyond!