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Adult Grief Program for Small Groups - Lesson 7

Lesson #7-at-a-glance

Station Five of the Journey continued: “Integration”


Coming into wholeness

Guiding Words:


(Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome/ Post-Traumatic Growth)

Guiding Question:

Is it possible that your biggest challenge - your greatest grief – offers you an opportunity for a deeper, more meaningful life?

Guiding Quotation:

“Imagine the size of your fear, grief and shame. Now embrace it, and you will have successfully estimated the power of your wholeness.”

Invitation to the Project:

Create of State of Grace Document

(Adapted from the Center for Collaborative Awareness)

Meditation or Closing Quotation:

“Connecting to Source”

Adapted from the writing of Eckhart Tolle

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

Guiding quotation:

“Imagine the size of your fear, grief and shame. Now embrace it, and you will have successfully estimated the power of your wholeness.”

Teaching point:

Follow up and sharing:

What did you do with “the shattering”?

Invitation to the project:

“My State of Grace Document”

Explanation: Our purpose here is to look at the relationship we have with Grief. We have adapted this model from the original created by Maureen McCarthy of the consulting firm Engaging the Soul @ Work. To learn more about the creation of a State of Grace, and to broaden your understanding of the invitation, please follow this link:

As we engage in this project, we want to imagine Grief as an entity – because it is!

We have seen that this is a powerful tool to create a living center for strengthening and healing every kind of relationship. It invites consciousness, responsibility and honesty from within; one might call this a state of grace.

This document allows you the opportunity to contemplate how you have learned to relate to Grief; it develops out of 5 ways to look at this relationship.

  • The story of us (me and Grief)

  • Interaction styles/warning signs that we’re in conflict

  • Expectations

  • How I can return to peace after a visit from Grief?

  • The agreement between us

An example State of Grace Document:

The Story of Us:

The story of grief and me started almost since I was born. You (grief) have been my companion/everything, if I knew it or not from so much of my childhood through the many, many years. You were my loneliness feelings that I didn't understand or why I had them. You were there for the nurturing I needed when I was too young in understanding about losing my sister (a caregiver) for several years in my life, to trying to grow up and having several restrictions and unknowns for what I truly I needed to grow up and thrive. You were there for me, when there was both actual animal and human losses that I encountered in growing through life. The human losses were almost easier to bear in understanding of you (grief), than the bigger loss of not having as nurturing childhood as I needed and the not the length to my childhood innocence that a kid should have. The being “an adult” didn't have to happen as early as it did for me. In some ways Grief, your being my constant companion made me less “adult” and grown up than I was in my 20's, 30's, and 40's because I didn't usually understand the situation, my emotions, or myself. But I now realize that wasn't even your fault. It's just how things played out for me. Facing these realities of you (grief) about those years now through the Adult Grief Program, I understand so much better about the grief process, myself, and how to thrive when you come knocking again. As I understand you are a core ingredient of life.

Expectations of Each Other (Grief & Me):

At times you will be full in my face and I may know that you are there. Other times, I may not want to have full acknowledgment of you in my present life. When you are in my face, I can survive and thrive with you. I don't want to go back to the ignorance that you are there or avoidance of the issues and life when it's needed.

How to get Peace:

Show my true self to me and others. Actively create art and participate in dance or movement routines. Stay active and getting outdoors to the Nature I love. Get all the grief energy out of my person by “doing” projects, talking with friends and loved ones.

Agreement Between Us:

I pledge to keep you (Sister Grief) in the active moments when working through some grief, so I can thrive again with life. I hope you pledge to help me refocus, restructure, and create new anchors when it is needed for me.

Signed: M and Grief

Next week: Rite of Passage Ceremony and Celebration

Please be prepared with the following:

  • Your State of Grace Document

  • Your thoughts on who and what you are honoring

  • Your thoughts on what it means to “thrive in the face of suffering”

  • Have you moved closer to “thriving” in the last 8 weeks? How so?

  • Your evaluation of what has been powerful for you in this program

  • Thinking back to the first session and to the word that you chose to describe what you hoped to get out of this class, did you achieve that? Please explain.

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

Closing quotation: Kahlil Gibran

“Joy and Sorrow”


“Thriving Without Conflict”

From the writings of Eckhart Tolle


“Joy and Sorrow”

“In the Bag”:

Lesson #7 Talking stick

Notebook/Journal Tablecloth

Box of pens Candle/Lighter

Tissues State of Grace Document

Singing bowl or bell

Loss line

The Science of Post-Traumatic Growth

Adapted from the article by Shelley Levitt

From the magazine Live Happy

A growing body of research shows that the biggest challenges we face offer opportunities for deeper, more meaningful lives.

PTG – the phenomenon of people becoming strong and creating a more meaningful life in the wake of staggering tragedy or trauma.

Parents who have lost children – None of these parents believed that their child’s death was a good thing. They would have given up all their newfound activism, insights and altruism, their re-ordered sense of what really matters in life, to have their child back. “The process of growth does not eliminate the pain of loss and tragedy.” But out of loss, there is often gain in ways that can be deeply profound.

PTG gave experts the language to express and recognize something that was hiding in plain sight: trauma’s potential to transform us in positive ways. Research proves that we as humans are hard-wired to grow as a result of hardship.

The paradox:

PTG is a response to a seismic event that rocks your world to its very core. Your psychological house isn’t merely rattled – it’s leveled. Trauma and the resulting grief disrupt your core beliefs. It’s so far from what you’ve experienced in your life that you can’t integrate it into your belief system. It’s not the trauma itself that leads to growth but the process of rebuilding, or creating new anchors in a life that has become unmoored.

Distress doesn’t end when growth begins. We’re looking at the paradox of loss and gain happening at the same time. It’s a messy, clumsy, difficult path. Post-traumatic stress and post-traumatic growth may keep company for the rest of our lives. “When someone loses a child, growth may make that pain bearable and may provide meaning to your life.

And as time goes on you will have more good days than bad days, but you will always be a bereaved parent.”

We can and do learn how to thrive in the face of suffering and trauma.

On Joy and Sorrow Kahlil Gibran

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be?

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven? And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives? When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight. Some of you say, "Joy is greater than sorrow," and others say, "Nay, sorrow is the greater." But I say unto you, they are inseparable. Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed. Kamilah, Kahlil's mother. Painting by Kahlil Gibran

“Imagine the size of your fear, grief and shame.

Now embrace it,

and you will have successfully estimated

the power of your wholeness.”

~ Anon

Meditation: Connecting to Source

Lesson Seven

Adapted from the writings of Eckhart Tolle

The mind is constantly looking not only for food for thought; it is also looking for food for its identity, its sense of self. This is how the ego comes into being and continuously recreates itself.

When each thought absorbs your attention, it means you identify with the voice in your head. This is the ego, a mind-made “me”. That mentally constructed self feels incomplete and fearful and wanting.

When you recognize that there is a voice in your head that pretends to be you, you are awakening out of your unconsciousness. When you notice that voice, you realize that who you are is NOT the voice – the thinker – but the one who is aware of it. This is the beginning of freedom.

Every ego contains an element of what we call “victim identity”, and resentment and grievances form a part of their sense of self. In this, you have constructed an identity for yourself that is much like a prison whose bars are made of thought forms. See what you are doing to yourself. Feel the emotional attachment you have to your victim story. Just witnessing this is enough. With awareness comes transformation and freedom.

What are the stories from which you derive your sense of self? Remember that the ego needs to oppose, resist, and exclude to maintain the sense of separateness on which its continued survival depends. So there is a “me” against the “other”.

The ego needs to be in conflict. That explains why you are looking for peace and joy and love, but cannot tolerate them for long. We say that we want happiness, but we’re addicted to our unhappiness.

Our happiness arises NOT from the circumstances of our lives, but from the conditioning of the mind.

Do you carry feelings of guilt about something from the past? Remember, you acted from the level of your consciousness at the time.

Guilt is another attempt by the ego to create an identity. The ego says, “I did that,” and so you carry a mental image of yourself as “bad”. Throughout history humans have inflicted violent, cruel and hurtful acts on each other. But those acts are simply expressions of unconsciousness, an evolutionary stage that we are growing out of.

If you carry guilt, forgive yourself, and deeply connect to the source of your essence. Breathe it in fully, and be at peace.

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