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Adult Grief Program for Small Groups - Lesson 4

Lesson #4-at-a-glance

Station Three on the Journey:

“The Gap between Suffering and Thriving”


Discovering what keeps us from thriving

Guiding Words:

“Paradox” (Our relationship: Life/Grief)

Guiding Questions:

Based on the word that you chose to describe what you hope to get out of this class, from Lesson #1, what blocks you from what you seek?

Guiding Quotation: Rumi

The Guest House

Invitation to the Projects:

Write a Loving Letter to Grief

Create a collage: The way it was, the way it is, the way I want it to be

Meditation or Closing Quotation:

“Suffering and the End of Suffering”

Adapted from the writing of Eckhart Tolle

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

Guiding word:

“Paradox” (Life and Grief)

Our relationship with grief reflects our relationship with life

Guiding questions:

Recall the word that you chose in the first lesson describing what you hope to get out of this class. Where are you today in relation to what you seek? How are you doing in bridging that gap?

Guiding quotation: Rumi

“This being human is a guesthouse……”

Teaching point:

  • We’re looking at the gap between where we are and where we want to be and how we can bridge that gap. The bridge is this program and all the work that goes into learning the basic life skill of grieving.

  • View the hatch-marks on your loss line as “bubbles in time”; we have kept them alive through emotional attachment, stories, memories, and a sense of victimhood – the effects are still alive in us as if they are still happening.

  • We can heal these bubbles by recognizing buried feelings and allowing them to rise up out of the loop of time. Imagine bubbles floating in space – transmitting their energy – bubbles that cannot evaporate or stop playing. This is the wound, the story that we replay over and over.

Follow up and sharing:

Share Name Poems and your experience of writing a letter of forgiveness

Invitation to the projects:

  • Write a letter to Grief (as if Grief is an entity – and she is.)

  • This follows up on the DABDA paradigm and the E+LG. In other words, we’re approaching our relationship with Grief with kindness, friendship, maybe even love and gratitude.

  • Create a collage in 3 parts: The way it was, the way it is, the way I want it to be


“Suffering and the End of Suffering”

Adapted from the writings of Eckhart Tolle

Closing Quotation: “The Thing is………..”

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

“In the Bag”:

Lesson #4



Box of pens




Singing bowl, bell

Letter of Forgiveness

This being human is a guesthouse.

Every morning a new arrival!

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

Some momentary awareness

Comes as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

Meet them at the door laughing,

And invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,

Because each has been sent

As a guide from beyond.

~ Rumi

The Thing Is

to love life, to love it even

when you have no stomach for it

and everything you’ve held dear

crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,

your throat filled with the silt of it.

When grief sits with you, its tropical heat

thickening the air, heavy as water

more fit for gills than lungs;

when grief weights you like your own flesh

only more of it, an obesity of grief,

you think, How can a body withstand this?

Then you hold life like a face

between your palms, a plain face,

no charming smile, no violet eyes,

and you say, yes, I will take you

I will love you, again.

~ Ellen Bass

Meditation: Suffering and the End of Suffering

Lesson Four

Adapted from the writing of Eckhart Tolle, Stillness Speaks

We’re looking at the interconnectedness of all things: nothing that happens is an isolated event; it only appears to be. The more we judge and label it, the more we isolate it. The wholeness of life becomes fragmented through our thinking. Yet the totality of life has brought this event about. It is part of the web of interconnectedness that is the cosmos.

This means: whatever is could not be otherwise; recognizing the inevitability within the vastness of the whole can be the beginning of an inner acceptance of what is and thus a realignment with the wholeness of life.

True freedom and the end of suffering is living in such a way as if you had completely chosen whatever you feel or experience at this moment.

This inner alignment with Now is the end of suffering.

Is suffering really necessary? Yes and no.

If you had not suffered as you have, there would be no depth to you as a human being, no humility, no compassion. Suffering cracks open the shell of ego, and then comes a point when it has served its purpose.

Suffering is necessary until you realize it is unnecessary.

Much suffering, much unhappiness arises when you take each thought that comes into your head for the truth. Situations don’t make you unhappy. They may cause you physical pain, but they don’t make you unhappy. Your thoughts make you unhappy. Your interpretations, the stories you tell yourself make you unhappy. This realization breaks your unconscious identification with those thoughts.

Naming something as bad causes an emotional contraction within you. When you let it be, without naming it, enormous power is suddenly available to you. The contraction cuts you off from that power, the power of life itself.

When you go beyond the habitual naming, the power of the universe moves through you. When you are in a nonreactive relationship to experiences, what you would have called “bad” before often turns around quickly, if not immediately, through the power of life itself.

Whatever your life situation, how would you feel if you completely accepted it as it is – right Now?

You can learn to recognize all forms of suffering as they happen know: at this moment, I am creating suffering for myself.

This is the miracle: behind every condition, person, or situation that appears “bad” lies concealed a deeper good. That deeper good reveals itself to you – both within and without – through inner acceptance of what is.

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