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Hosting a community grief ritual

Grief is subversive, undermining the quiet agreement to behave and be in control of our emotions. It is an act of protest that declares our refusal to live numb and small. There is something feral about grief, something essentially outside the ordained and sanctioned behaviors of our culture. Because of that, grief is necessary to the vitality of the soul.” – Francis Weller

Have you wondered what a grief ritual is? What sharing grief publicly is for, and what the intention of such a gathering of souls is? Have you been part of one yourself? In this video we tell the story of a community grief ritual we hosted last night. We describe the form of it, the protocols, the feelings and the purpose of it. Our intention for this video is to share with you the possibilities of such a process, and to encourage you to find, or create, those places in your community where such rituals can take place.

The length of this video is 50mins. In the spirit of unscripted sharing (and less time on screen) we haven’t edited this video. It is a single take, and a slow unfolding that requires some space, contiguous with the subject matter.

Here is the audio-only version:


We’d love to hear of your experiences of community ritual, your comments about your own grief, or anything that arises from community story sharing you wish to share here.

Here are the books we mention, and recommend, in this video:

Healing Pandora: The Restoration of Hope and Abundance by Gail Thomas

– re:)Fermenting Culture: a return to insight through gut logic by Patrick Jones (PDF & audio; paperback copies are out of print)

The smell of rain on dust: Grief and praise by Martín Prechtel

The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief by Francis Weller



  1. Judit says:

    Beautiful, heartfelt and soulful, so thank you for sharing this.

    This sort of ritual and ceremony is so much needed in our rather barren culture today.
    Your facilitating this to happen is promising and wonderful.

    1. Thanks Judit!
      A friend shared this privately in relation to this post:

      “Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place“ – Rumi

  2. Rachel says:

    This is just beautiful, thanks for explaining it so naturally. I found waves of tears wanting to come through just listening to you talk it! Then I was giggling watching objects flying up over Patrick’s shoulder as Woody and a friend were playing outside. I found myself trying to guess what the objects were – were they Woody and his friend? – but I don’t think they were. It was very funny and very lovely.

    1. Thanks Rachel, yes Woody and his friend Fab were playing outside. Haha, that’s very funny. We actually haven’t watched back as yet, it’s the first video we’ve made that we just set live.

  3. Jean-Marc Dupré says:

    I quoted these lines to introduce Hortus Conclusus:

    Many of us spend our lives running from feelings with the mistaken belief that we cannot bear the pain. But you have already born the pain… What you have not done is feel all you are, beyond that pain. Kahil Gibran

    Also on the day of the fire circle, I wrote about the great deception:

    …to the End of Time.

    In rough shards my heart has broken…

    Ideals and loyalty has been lost, we dreamt big for our kids,
    The abundance of each season was renewed,
    Peace marches and protest of ideas carried us forward,
    Seeking to travel in a sundry world and own innocence…
    All this was trusted to me as edifying guidance to fasten in
    Into a wild ride of a far and now defunct generation…

    We now learn to be delusional!
    For some to evolve others choose to be blind to reality.
    Delay has become a new denial to keep gasping
    Life for air and now water losses across continents

    I want to share my oddity
    While there is time still
    As elders should tell truth and tails
    And commonly around to share with young minds…
    Instead, I struggle to accept this feeling of grief
    Where we have arrived at this present emergency.
    Denial is now delay, the new age crooning!

    Only the present exists, a still moment between past and future,
    And now turmoil before rebellion is proclaimed!
    A new age is arriving but it is not what the future life had offered me.
    All together we band like here tonight
    To share the intense feeling of deception…

    I now commit to this fire to transmute my grief and grit
    To the revolution that has already happened!

    I address in these words, the inflicted deception that pain leaves us in and try to express my own feelings that grief and denial are leaving me. Not only we have become vulnerable, in a perilous frame and continue to be exploited, teaching us to be delusional. I am sad but grateful to be able to address the grief I find myself in, listening to you my brothers and sisters for counsel…

    1. Thank you for sharing all this here Jean-Marc.

  4. Christiane Rostek says:

    Thank you so much for this beautiful video… I was so emotional touched, I started crying while listening! Thank you also for the recommended books from Martin Prechtel… so very interesting! Please go on with your amazing work! Greetings from Portugal! 🌍🌴🌞🌱

    1. Thank you Christiane!

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