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Adult Grief Program for Small Groups - Lesson 1

Station One on the Journey: “The Call to Adventure”


Looking at our issues of grief & loss

Guiding Words:

“Thriving”, “Shadowlands”

Guiding Questions:

Who are you?

What brings you to this work?

Using one word, what do you hope to gain from this class?

Guiding Quotation: Mark Nepo

“The extraordinary is waiting quietly beneath the skin of all that is ordinary; light is in both the broken bottle and the diamond.”

Invitation to the Project:

Create a loss Line (If possible, the facilitator of the group will do this ahead of time and have something to show the group. Demonstration is always good, and in this way, the facilitator is always just one step ahead of the group.)

Meditation or Closing Quotation

“Thriving in Stillness”

Adapted from the writings of Eckhart Tolle

*Note to the facilitator: Except for check-in and check-out, the circle is open to discussion. The sharing of thoughts and feelings is the pure joy of your group! Make sure, however, that no single person takes over or steals too much time from the group. Management is the key!

Group Business: This first class is critical to establishing the format and sacred nature of the work, and most importantly, creating connections with one another.

  • Attendance is critical

  • We will be engaging in experiential processes every week through invitations to the project

  • Journals are of great value as you make your way through the course

  • The Talking Stick is sacred – “A-ho” is spoken to indicate completion of check-in and check-out. It comes from the Lakota Sioux: “All my relations”, in which we honor ourselves and others

  • Confidentiality is paramount to our safety

***Grief work requires significant time, effort and space for contemplation and creation. Don’t find yourself over-committed or over-extended.

***If addiction is an issue, 6 months of sobriety is recommended to insure your well-being. This is deep and powerful work, and it could trigger a relapse.

***As a participant, it’s very important that you be a silent witness to others and their grief. We don’t give advice, and we don’t take on their pain. We allow them their healing journey while holding them in love and compassion, trusting that they will find their way Home.

*** There are Three Circles of Comfort: comfortable, uncomfortable, panic. We want to invite comfort, but discomfort is good; it means that you’re on your growing edge; if panic arises, you will probably need to leave the group to find your calm center.

Introduction to the Adult Grief Program:

There are not many teachers who invite you into the “shadowlands”; there are few opportunities in our busy world to deliberately go there. Welcome to grief work! As we head into the shadowlands of grief, you have a guide (your facilitator) and a map. (Introduce the map: The Hero’s Journey from Grief to Thriving and invite discussion)

  • Handout and discussion: “What is grief work all about?”

Check in: Pass the talking stick to the left (from the heart) when you are complete and quietly affirm “Aho” (I have been heard)

  • Who are you?

  • What brings you to this group?

  • What is your “word” – that which describes what you hope to gain from this grief work?

*Make note of these words for future use; you will use them again in Lesson #8

Quotation: Mark Nepo

“The extraordinary is waiting quietly beneath the skin of all that is ordinary; light is in both the broken bottle and the diamond.”

Poem: “The Elephant in the Room”

  • Show the Image

Teaching point:

  • Introduce the concept of “THRIVING” – what does it mean?

  • Thriving is both the intention and the direction of our work

Invitation to the project:

  • To get a good sense of this “invitation”, please read one of our earlier posts, “How to Take Care of Yourself when Grieving”. To quote from that article, “Why is the experiential process of grief so vitally important? Because it’s essential to our well-being; it’s a journey of both contemplation and action; it’s about getting unstuck and expanding our consciousness. It’s about connection to our souls, our bodies, our minds and hearts. It teaches us to forgive and let go of our hope for a different or better past. It’s an invitation to move from suffering and weakness to thriving and strength. It’s the permission to live well and be happy. It’s finding love for yourself.”

  • Create a loss-line from birth to the present, making “hatch-marks” for the losses that have affected your life and date them (with a year or age). Use “stars” to indicate BIG losses

  • Explanation: this project is, perhaps, the most important of all our projects. We have used strips of adding machine paper to make a loss-line, but anything will work to get a good look at your timeline of grief. You might want to create it in your journal. Put every single loss that you can remember on this timeline, from birth to this very moment. You will be astonished! Remember: there’s no way to do any of these projects “wrong”. It’s your work and you get to do it your way. Be sure to leave plenty of room on your loss-line, as things will come up after you think you’re done! You’ll be surprised how much you have “forgotten”!

Check out: Pass the talking stick to the left (from the heart)

Closing with meditation or a closing quote from the meditation

“Thriving in Stillness”

Adapted from the writing of Eckhart Tolle


“The Elephant in the Room”

“What is Grief Work all About?”

“In the Bag” (All the materials you will need to facilitate the group)

Lesson Journal or notebook

Images Tissues

Quotations Name tags

Tablecloth Candle

Lighter Loss Line

Talking stick Singing bowl & stick, bell or chimes

Box of pens, markers, dry-erase markers, etc.

The Elephant in the Room

There’s an elephant in the room.

It is large and squatting, so it is hard to get around it.

Yet we squeeze by with, “How are you?” and “I’m fine.”

And a thousand other forms of trivial chatter.

We talk about the weather.

We talk about school.

We talk about everything else…. except the elephant in the room.

There’s an elephant in the room.

We all know it’s there.

We are thinking about the elephant as we talk together.

It is constantly on our minds.

For, you see, it is a very big elephant.

It has hurt us all.

But we do not talk about the elephant in the room.

Oh, please! Let’s talk about the elephant in the room!

For if we talk about who and what we have lost

Perhaps we can also talk about life and how it goes on and on.

Can we talk about our loved one who died?

Can we talk about all that we have lost? And the pain we feel?

If we can’t, then we are all alone

In a room…….

With an elephant.

“The extraordinary

Is waiting quietly beneath the skin

Of all that is ordinary;

Light is in both the

Broken bottle

And the diamond.”

~ Mark Nepo

What is Grief Work all About?

Responses from past students:

It’s acknowledging that all true healing will eventually be a spiritual healing

It’s an entry into consciousness

It’s essential work to our well-being

It’s about re-parenting yourself

It’s about expansion and getting unstuck

It’s a spirituality of action and contemplation

It’s soul guidance

It invites us to move from suffering to thriving

It invites us to move from weakness to strength

It teaches us to forgive and let go of our hope for a different or a better past

It allows us to be friendly and accepting of what “is”

It’s connection to my Self, my body, my soul and the Divine

It takes us to healing, health, wholeness and personal empowerment

It’s a hero’s journey that takes us home to increased love for God, for self and others

Lesson One Meditation: Thriving in Stillness

Adapted from the writings of Eckhart Tolle

(This meditation begins with the “words” that participants chose to represent what they hope to get out of this class. Read the list and then begin the meditation, using the words that they chose.)

What is (wisdom, clarity, peace, understanding, etc.), and where is it to be found? It is to be found within yourself. This word that you used to describe what you hope to gain through this class are to be found in stillness. Just look and listen. No more is needed. Being still, looking, and listening activates the deepest intelligence within you.

Our problem is the Human Condition. The “human condition”: Lost in thought

But there is a dimension of consciousness far deeper than thought. It is the very essence of who you are. Finding that place within yourself frees you from all suffering. It is the place of (use the words here). Love, joy, lasting peace cannot come into your life except through that unconditional dimension of consciousness that resides within you.

Our work in is awakening from the dream/nightmare of thoughts. Fear, sadness, grief are all products of the human mind. They come and they go, or we get stuck in them for years. But they are not “you”.

Feel the energy of your inner body. Immediately mental noise slows down or ceases. Feel it in your hands, your feet, your abdomen, your chest. Feel the life that you are, the life that animates the body. Now the body becomes a doorway into a deeper sense of aliveness underneath the emotions and underneath the thinking.

There is an aliveness in you that you can feel with your entire Being, not just in your head. Every cell is alive in that presence in which you don’t need to think. Can you rest for just a moment in not needing to think? Remember this: true Mastery of life is the opposite of control. The Truth of who you are is more powerful than the mind can possibly comprehend. You are invited now to connect with the Truth of who you are, to go to that place within yourself where peace resides full-time.

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