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Grieving, healing and finding hope together

As part of the Mourning Into Unity project, I was privileged to work closely with Rev Dr. Sheila Harvey. Earlier this year, she spoke with me about the ongoing, unaddressed grief she was seeing and her concern about its impact.

Given the events of recent years, we have much to mourn, both individually and collectively. Whether through the traumas of mass violence, racial injustice, Covid, or climate crisis, we have lost lives, health, security, social bonds, safety.

The Grief, Healing & Hope Retreat is grounded in the conviction that only by grieving together can we heal, recover our common humanity and reclaim our commitment to each other. Too often the extent of our sorrow scares us, making us turn from acknowledging our own and others’ grief. That seeming indifference, in turn, compounds painful losses experienced by communities seen as ‘lesser than.’

As much as we think that ‘carrying on’ as usual will make us feel better, scientists, mental health experts and spiritual leaders across traditions all know that the potential for healing and wellbeing in fact rests in spaces of shared mourning, connection, and oneness. Through guided discussions led by spiritual leaders Reverend Dr. Sheila Harvey and Reverend Ed Bacon, the 4-session retreat will take us on a journey into grief and towards the possibility of living with both grief and hope: Session 1 - The spiritual and scientific case for why we must actively grieve Rev Matthew Fox on the universality of grief and the imperative to grieve so as to avoid grief turning to toxic anger Dr Gary Slutkin on the transmissibility of violence (how unaddressed trauma from exposure to violence/loss makes us more susceptible to accepting violence as inevitable) Session 2 - Spiritual leaders share their respective tradition's approach to mourning and the imperative to engage in grieving practice in order to heal Rev angel Kyodo Williams (Buddhism) Imam Jihad Turk (Islam) Rabbi Sharon Brous (Judaism) Rev Matthew Fox (Christianity) Session 3 - Representatives of communities that have suffered trauma/grief will share their losses/impacts and give attendees an opportunity to express solidarity/compassion for those communities' suffering, with a particular focus on the absence of legitimacy/value accorded to BIPOC and marginalized communities' need to grieve. Mass shootings - such as Buffalo (Black community), Portland (LGBTQ+ victim), Kenosha (people supporting a Black victim of police violence) Covid survivors Climate Crisis Session 4 - Living with grief and cultivating hope Nelba Marquez Greene, LMFT Dr. Dan Siegel Both presenters are mental health professionals and Ms. Marquez Greene is also the mother of a child killed in the Sandy Hook mass shooting.

In grieving together, we recover our common humanity and reclaim our commitment to each other. Please join us!

I share with you the agony of your grief

The anguish of your heart finds echo in my own.

I know I cannot enter all you feel

Nor bear with you the burden of your pain;

I can but offer what my love does give. The strength of caring, the warmth of one who seeks to understand,

The silent storm-swept barrenness of so great a loss.

This I do in quiet ways, That on your lonely path You may not walk alone.

Rev. Dr. Howard Thurman, “Meditations of the Heart

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