The question: Can we grieve and heal better?

A blank slate is the image leaving my job brings to mind.

This time the blank slate is an open door, an opportunity that screams to me, to follow my gut, to dig deep into what I am passionate about. The moment of not being tied to place and occupation creates a sense of possibility to let the passion and inspiration bubble back to the surface. As I listen to myself, I realized I have often posed the question to others: what keeps you up at night? What drives you? I have gently nudged others to follow that voice that drives their passion.

I feel called to answer an important question: How can we grieve and heal better?

I am on, and have been on, a journey to answer this question. Perhaps “better” isn’t the right way to frame the question. Maybe it should be replaced with – differently, holistically, together – a multitude of words could fill the space inhabited by “better.” However, the sentiment displayed in “better” is that there is an opportunity to examine how we grieve, how we heal, how we feel loss now and in the future, how we remember and how we move forward with an eye towards making the process one of remembrance, strength, and dignity.

With these questions driving me, the next few months will be a journey in exploring answers, or at least, a journey in generating new questions. I plan to walk in the shoes of professionals from funeral directors, to spiritual leaders, to grief counselors. I plan to read the stories of those who are brave enough to share their stories – from war, to violence, to loss in its myriad of forms. I plan to meet with those working in humanitarian disaster and conflict zones. I plan to seek out those who have survived these complex situations. I plan to listen, digest, and learn how grief touches individuals and communities. I plan to soak up models of healing from different cultures, faith traditions, and communities.

There may be a gap in how individuals, families, communities, and societies are supported in the aftermath of violence, loss, grief, remembrance, and healing. The gap may not be obvious, it may be complex – and most likely, the gap may point to the heart of grief and healing. The simple fact that it is hard – it is painful – and it can alter the course of life. However, there may be opportunities to think about relationships and healing differently. To put community at the center of the grief and healing process. There may be a model for grief, remembrance, and healing that can cross cultures and varieties of traumas. Similarities in the need to celebrate life, to find a supportive way to grief, to create spaces for mourning may exist. These similarities may tie experiences of loss across communities, countries, and experiences. The human spirit may seek similar types of support in times of deep sadness, from Ferguson, Missouri to the outbreak of Ebola in Liberia to soldiers returned from Iraq and Afghanistan.

These questions are just the beginning.

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