Grief Tending in Community

To honour our grief is a natural gateway to our vitality and joy.  In this 3 day grief tending weekend, we will learn how to tend grief as a community.  Our personal, ecological and ancestral grief not only belongs in the circle, but can perhaps only be fully met when held by a larger circle or ‘village’.  The weekend culminates in an ancient grief tending ritual which is a powerful and grounded tool for communities to maintain their emotional health.

The grief tending ritual has been gently adapted for our culture, from the Dagara grief ritual taught by Sobonfu Some of Burkina Faso. I also want to acknowledge the work of Wisdom Bridge and Joanna Macy for their contributions to this growing ‘craft’ of grief tending at this incredible time in history.

The Dagara people do this kind of grief tending every week as a community! It’s normal and celebrated. How can you be truly joyful if you are not feeling and releasing your grief? Grief and joy are two wings of the same bird. This weekend is not about solving or getting to the bottom of our personal or global causes for grief, it’s about re-awakening our basic innate bodily self- healing systems for processing and relating to our grief in a healthy way.

As most of us in the west have not been raised in cultures that allow our grief much space to breathe and release regularly, we will spend time before the ritual connecting to ourselves and our grief. Amongst other art-based tools we will use a grief tending writing practice designed by Buddhist Natalie Goldberg ( or see her book ‘Writing Down the Bones’). Likewise, after the ritual we will take time to integrate the experience so that we are able to be with what has moved in us once the ‘container’ of this special group context is gone.

In contemporary  western culture we are largely encouraged to take our grief to professionals, to keep it private, personal and confidential, and sometimes that is what is needed. This however, is a unique opportunity to experience an ancient egalitarian community technology for grief processing, in the context of a like-hearted and connected group of people.

While Maeve Gavin will be the lead facilitator for the weekend, it is the temporarily formed village itself of returning and new participants that really creates the safe container for the ritual together. That’s the beauty of it.

Quotes from previous participants

“The ritual was just wonderful, like reclaiming a part of myself that has been wandering in a desert, lost, looking for water. And the sense of what it is to be human from a sane healthy culture is just so healing and wholesome and whole-making.”

“I haven’t had a sense of depression walking alongside me since. that’s a huge change! I feel more connected to people, more accepting of myself. My experience of the ceremony was of a very safe and beauty-filled space. There was deep acceptance of where everybody was, a sense of community was well fostered.”

“Maeve’s presence was grounding, loving, authentic. I have deep respect for what she is bringing through and her commitment to it.”

“It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I learnt a lot from listening to your experiences and ancient wisdom passed down. Thanks for helping me take my first steps to move my grief.”

“I felt securely and lovingly held by you, as facilitators who led the flowing, organic, yet firmly structured process. My overall impression of the weekend was of being comfortingly ‘held’ by a process which had been very skilfully adapted to suit our western dysfunctionality! The gentle, sensitive build up and coming back down from the ritual was lovingly crafted and delicately held.”


Scotland – October 2013

When: 3pm Friday 11th – 1pm Monday 14th October, 2013

Where: Gulabin Lodge, Spittal of Glenshee – by Blairgowrie, Perthshire, PH10 7QE

Accommodation: Bunkhouse, rooms are quiet spaces.

Food: Healthy vegetarian food

Cost: £275 all inclusive
(returning participants are invited to pay £250)

Some concessions/bursaries available, contact

To Book: this weekend requires an application form. To request one please contact

For additional logistical or booking information, details re. deposit and similar, please also email us

Devon – December 2013

When: 3pm Friday 29th  November- 1pm Monday 2nd December 2013

Where: High Heathercombe Centre, Manaton. Set in beautiful woodland right on the edge of wild Dartmoor in Devon

Accommodation: In five small shared bunkrooms (B&B near by if preferred)

Food: Healthy vegetarian, mostly local and organic

Cost: £275 all inclusive sliding scale
(returning participants are invited to pay £250)

Some concessions/bursaries available, contact Fern 01647 231 554

To Book: this weekend requires an application form. To request one please email Jeremy Thres:

For additional logistical or booking information, details re. deposit and similar, please contact Jeremy 01647 221444 or Fern Ramsay 01647 231554

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