I have often thought and almost as often spoken that it takes a community to grieve, it takes a community to die well, it takes a community to heal from loss. On an intellectual level I knew it was the case and I have seen evidence of it when working with the dying.
I was in Campbell River this past week doing some training in a long term care home coupled with a weekend workshop day one was The Gift of Grief, day two was Being with the Dying. In each setting, the care home and the workshops we sat in circle and formed a living and breathing community of care providers, and of people who are drawn to do dying, death and grief more heart opened and authentically.
What I noticed was real help took place; real healing took place. It was the community we created that was responsible for the amazing learning, growth and healing. I could not have done it on my own!
The combination of different faces, different histories, different ways of speaking, different ways of listening, and even different ways of sitting all added a deep richness to the quilt of humanness that touched us all. Yes as the facilitator I created the space and yes I started the events by setting the tone. However it was the community of participants that did the work, that did the relating that led to the healing and growth that took place.
I too participated in the growth and healing after all I was a community member as well not at all separate or above it in some facilitator way. I think this is an important observation as evidenced by us sitting in a circle where there is no obvious leader. Each person that spoke and shared held the leadership position for a while. They held the baton and led the group forward in their way with their unique contribution. It was a ‘long and winding road’ as is the path of true community based healing from grief and loss.
I am convinced more than ever before the dying, death and grief demand a community of support.
Community, is a verb, a collection of interactions, not a passive noun as the dictionary would suggest.