FSA Webinar Wednesday – Number 5, 20th May 2020, 8-9.30pm
Summary & Collated Notes
Topic: Exploring Grief
Speaker: Rebecca Card, Guide, Facilitator and Ceremonalist of nature-based wisdom, cultural healing and soul initiation (https://naturewisdom.life/)
Webinar Style: ‘In the Thicket’ – Topical Presentation with short Q & A
Total Number Registered: 109
Total Number attended: At 8pm: 65 up to 76 max & averaged 73 (first Half hour) – Dropped by 25 people when split into break out rooms.
Please see webinar recording for Rebecca’s full Talk and answers to questions. Please be aware that some elements were not recorded due to the personal nature of the sharing.
- Welcome from Chairperson (Matt),
- Update from the FSA (Matt):
- Latest FSA update relating to Covid – 19 https://www.forestschoolassociation.org/ncorona-covid-19-and-forest-school/
- Online poll – technical hiccup!
- Bonus opportunity – online Grief ceremony with Rebecca on Friday 29th May 2020, 8pm https://www.forestschoolassociation.org/bonus-opportunity-tending-grief-an-online-ceremony-with-rebecca-card-29th-may-2020-8-9-30pm/
- Intro to this webinars topic & Welcome to Rebecca (Matt)
- Rebecca started with some grounding breaths and a focus on gratitude.
- Highlighted the importance of gratitude in relation to grief – ‘If we have no praise for life then we cannot feel the grief’
- Gave some background to the forthcoming grief ceremony opportunity. Mentioned the 5 gateways of grief (Francis Weller).
- She introduced herself and shared a personal grief story
- Rebecca continued sharing some thoughts about grief, some elements mentioned:
- In our cultural context it is not common practice to routinely express certain states such as gratitude and grief. Some emotions are even unwelcome eg anger, fear or sadness
- In these times there is a lot of things to grieve for – there is a need to explore grief now more than ever. Both personally and collectively.
- Francis Weller – ‘Grieving as soul maintenance’
- Grief as ‘whatever is ready to move’ – this could manifest in all sorts of different ways and emotional states.
- Expressing grief is an ‘unblocking’ allowing movement which is a healing process.
- Rebecca explored ‘How does grief show up’?
- Depression – if left blocked, unmoving and unexpressed (repressed grief) ir
- Additictions – all are behaviours driven by unexpressed grief
- Despair, Anger & outrage – grief is underpinning these emotions
- Numbness – don’t wanna even go there!
Requires patience and gentleness to unpick the layers
- Split into break out rooms in small groups to discuss and share the questions:
- What is your relationship to grief? How do you feel about it?
- What memories or stories of grief do you have? (When grief was allowed or not allowed)
There was a short harvesting of key insights from the discussions from those who were willing to share. Some key points:
- Importance of acceptance. ‘To welcome all parts of ourselves’ including things like fears, awkwardness, discomfort etc
- Also importance of being able to observe others grief without wanting to change it (eg cheer people up) so that healing can occur – especially as FS leaders.
- Importance of how we as FS leaders need to be able to work with our own grief before being able to support others. How we can role model validation and expression of grief as a tool to support others.
- Conclusion and summary (Matt) – thanks to all for attending and particularly to Rebecca for sharing her knowledge and experience with us.
OPTIONAL HALF HOUR (9 – 9.30pm)
Attendees who wished to remain had 2 choices:
- To continue discussing and asking Rebecca questions
- To join a sharing circle, community building, uplifting session (Jon)
Participants joined relevant room
Continued Grief Discussions – 11 people participated
The role of nature in grief tending?
- Human nervous system designed to be in nature, so easier to feel a sense of safety.
- The elements are readily available to support people. Water in particular acts as a mirror for peoples emotions.
- More opportunity for simple ‘ceremony’ (even if not using that vocabulary) – such as a ‘crying tree’, collecting natural objects associating meaning to them without having to speak
- Perhaps a more authentic environment – nature doesn’t judge, so ‘permission’ to express emotions?
As FS leaders are there symptoms to look for in people we work with?
- Grief is in all of us all of the time. Could manifest through any emotional state – could be underpinning many behaviours.
- If someone has experienced trauma there will always be grief. However, not all grief indicates trauma.
- Expression of grief is the bedrock of our physiological, mental and spiritual health – the absence of tending it leads to the many sicknesses in society.
- Many people may have layers of ‘armour’ to get through till they get to the grief – they might not be aware of the grief underneath.
How to normalise grief and grief tending?
- Allowing time and space – acceptance
- Talking circles and deep listening
- Showing our own authentic emotions as role models
- Discussion about vulnerability – linked to Brene Brown – Daring Greatly and Power of Vulnerability. https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_the_power_of_vulnerability
Sharing Circle – had over 20 to start with (think 27) not sure at end participated
Jon started off with a Poem from Wendell Berry
Work Song, part 2: A Vision, by Wendell Berry
If we will have the wisdom to survive,
to stand like slow growing trees
on a ruined place, renewing, enriching it…
then a long time after we are dead
the lives our lives prepare will live
here, their houses strongly placed
upon the valley sides…
The river will run
clear, as we will never know it…
On the steeps where greed and ignorance cut down
the old forest, an old forest will stand,
its rich leaf-fall drifting on its roots.
The veins of forgotten springs will have opened.
Families will be singing in the fields…
native to this valley, will spread over it
like a grove, and memory will grow
into legend, legend into song, song
into sacrament. The abundance of this place,
the songs of its people and its birds,
will be health and wisdom and indwelling
light. This is no paradisal dream.
Its hardship is its reality.
This was followed by a poem written and spoken by Glenn Lane
Ole Pine – by Glenn Lane
The Ole Pine of the woods
Once stood grand and fine
Proud red flaky bark and pin sharp needle leaves
On branches where the wood lark once sang
But what has he seen?
Blown from a cone to find life of need
And what has he been?
To grow from a flighty seed
To stand so tall in the green of youth
And yet to be so mighty
The pine that sees all
The overseer of the woods
Yet life is but a glimpse in time
The roots of his herd hold him strong
But in his knarls he smiles
The bold heart of the woods is never wrong
Now his branches like hair of a crazed wizard
Gently they drop piece by piece
Like a slow-motion blizzard of nature
He smiles in peace, his branches now bare
The gifts that he gives with endless care
Is not boundless and rotten
It is so the forest still lives
He is never forgotten in the roots of his herd
The Ole Pine of the woods
A number of people shared their first experiences of lockdown easing – Helen from Worcester who has felt the grief of not having children and families on her site, had the first family back today with all the risk control measures in operation – felt a joy and a relief. Sally in Nova Scotia being able to go to the beech for the first time in ages and her teen daughter connecting with nature collecting Dandelions for salad. Another participant took her family to her forest school site and relishing the den building etc, seeing it with fresh eyes.
Maria shared the permaculture training she is doing with Lusi from Children in Permaculture (see below) and all the things she is growing in window boxes (she lives in a flat) from the bee enticing plants (it is World Bee Day) to squashes.
Peni, based in West Wales, shared the growing she has done with her son in lockdown and the work she does normally both in Forest School and the growing projects she is involved in with teenagers – many who are vulnerable and face their own challenges at home and often at school. She is trained in permaculture and offered her contact if anyone is interested in her work, see below.
Helen also shared some information on her site and talked about the compost loo, Glenn is also building a compost loo. There was talk about sharing thoughts on compost toilets..Peni too has been involved in a number of compost toilet projects. This could indeed become a guidance note from the FSA! If anyone has experience in building compost loos on site do contact Jon at the FSA, it would be good to share stories on compost toilets at FS.
There was more ‘foraging’ sharing from hawthorn and crab apple brandy to elderflower cordial and ants!
Children in Permaculture – see http://childreninpermaculture.com/
Peni Ediker – runs a land based project in west wales – see https://www.facebook.com/SwnYCoed/ All things permaculture and compost loos, as well as FS! If you want advice on combining growing with FS Peni is open for questions.
World Bee Day – https://worldbeeday.org/en/about/the-project.html
Finished with everyone (25 people) coming together and Jon led a sing along to ‘Sparrow’ by Simon & Garfunkel from first album ‘Wednesday Morning 3 AM’ see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Igsh2y_c8XQ also includes the lyrics.
Meeting ended 9.47pm