loss

Flying pigs and photo created by Joke Mensink, a dear friend and a special light amongst the many wildly creative and talented artists within our amazing Gabriola community.

This week another Herceptin and chemo treatment and then, if all goes according to plan, Maria Gomori and I will be off to Anaheim, California for the Milton Erickson Evolution of Psychotherapy conference.   I’ll be doing all I can to muster my strength so I don’t miss this.  It only occurs every four years and we have made it a tradition to attend together for the past several conferences.   In 2018 Maria will be turning 98 years old, I will be discovering what it means to be on Sabbatical.  We will be traveling by plane unless one or two of Joke’s pigs appear to offer us a ride.

Maria will be presenting at the conference and honored as Faculty.   Approximately 8,000 people attend from around the globe to experience luminaries in their varying fields such as Irvin Yalom, Jean Houston, Dan Siegel, Jack Kornfield, Erving Polster, Peter Levine, The Gottmans, Harville Hendrix, Sue Johnson, Martin Seligman, Esther Perel, Antonio Domasio, Robert Dilts, Jeffrey Zeig.  Apparently Tipper Gore will be there this year, I am curious about that.  Last conference the guest was Alanis Morisette.  Past Faculty has included Virginia Satir, Carl Rogers, Carl Whitaker, Thomas Szasz, Rollo May, Ronald Laing, Viktor Frankl, James Bugenthal, Bruno Bettleheim and most recently Salvador Minuchin. I’ve always found experiencing people in person to be rich learning.  I, and several of us who have been involved with Haven for so many years have had the privilege of learning directly from Virginia Satir, Thomas Szasz, James Bugenthal and Carl Whitaker in the Heron session room.   I call this conference my “appreciation fix” for what is offered at Haven, recognizing the depth of integration of so many current approaches, including the skilled and deeply relational aspect that is so often missing from others.

One of this year’s presenters that I am most excited to experience will be David Whyte, speaking about SOLACE:  The Art of Asking the Beautiful Question.  I often offer his poetry to those who participate in my workshops.  Here is one of the passages I love to share, and also take guidance from for myself, from his book Consolations:

SOLACE is the art of asking the beautiful question, of ourselves, of our world or of one another, in fiercely difficult and un-beautiful moments.

Solace is what we must look for when the mind cannot bear the pain, the loss or the suffering that eventually touches every life and every endeavor; when longing does not come to fruition in a form we can recognize, when people we know and love disappear, when hope must take a different form than the one we have shaped for it.

Solace is the beautiful, imaginative home we make where disappointment can go to be rehabilitated. When life does not in any way add up, we must turn to the part of us that has never wanted a life of simple calculation. Solace is found in allowing the body’s innate wisdom to come to the fore, the part of us that already knows it is mortal and must take its leave of pain and difficulty, to the depth of suffering and simultaneous beauty in the world that the strategic mind by itself cannot grasp nor make sense of.

To look for solace is to learn to ask fiercer and more exquisitely pointed questions, questions that reshape our identities and our bodies and our relation to others. Standing in loss but not overwhelmed by it, we become useful and generous and compassionate and even amusing companions for others. But solace also asks us very direct and forceful questions. Firstly, how will you bear the inevitable that is coming to you? And above all, how will you shape a life equal to and as beautiful and as astonishing as a world that can birth you, bring you into the light and then just as you are beginning to understand it, take you away?

Albert at his best!

So, I wonder what is your beautiful question?

Doing my best to show up, be present, tell the truth and let go of the outcome.

Linda

 

 

 

 

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After A While

May 26, 2014

in Workshops

After A WhileLoss is an experience that I believe cannot be generalized. Each occurrence throughout my life has been different. Why? Because I myself have been different in each particular point in time, my range of feelings has differed, each other person involved has been unique, as has our relationship with each other and the surrounding circumstances. Each time, whether I have wanted to or not, I have had something to learn.

A few years before she died, Haven’s Dianne Anderson, my long time friend and my son’s partner for over 20 years, shared this poem with me. As poetry often does, it speaks eloquently of what I don’t have adequate ordinary words to express.

AFTER A WHILE

After a while you learn the subtle difference
between holding a hand and chaining a soul
and you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
and company doesn’t always mean security.

And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
and presents aren’t promises
and you begin to accept
your defeats
with your head up
and your eyes ahead
with the grace of woman,
not the grief of a child

And you learn to build
all your roads on today
because tomorrow’s ground
is too uncertain for plans
and futures have a way
of falling down in mid-flight.

After a while you learn
that even sunshine burns
if you get too much
so you plant your own garden
and decorate your own soul
instead of waiting for someone
to bring you flowers.

And you learn
that you really can endure
you really are strong
you really do have worth
and you learn
and you learn
with every goodbye, you learn…

~ Veronica A. Shoffstall

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Grieving: Change and Growth

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Opening pathways by clearing away some of the boulders that lie in the way is a tremendous support for stepping into fresh new territory. Sharing here with you the words from a previous participant: “I can now move forward with my life with peace about all the loss and with hope for the future. No […]

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About Completion

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Someone who has experienced profound loss and been in turmoil for over a year has just emailed me.  She is asking herself if she even wants completion, she just isn’t sure. The title of the workshop includes the word “completion”, which can have many differing interpretations depending upon who is hearing it.  For me, completion […]

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