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Grief after the WildFires

Dealing with Personal and Collective Grief… Life after the WildFires

“The village is the place you go to be seen. It is this being seen for what we most deeply value that helps repair the “break in belonging” and lets us plant the seeds of hope and renewal”. Sobonfu

Many traditional indigenous cultures hold that the sharing of grief is essential for the connectedness of a community. Grieving is one of the ways we express love for what we’ve lost, and in the process helps us ground in what most deeply matters to us.

The Wildfires in Portugal brought much loss to many people and whole communities. Loss of cherished dreams; home & personal belongings; destruction of land & nature; livelihoods; communities; loved ones; and personal health.
Dropping into the deep feelings of grief can be immensely restorative, particularly when witnessed, held and allowed to run its full course by a community who are nourished by their mutually shared support of each other.

For many cultures, there is no place for the expression of our grief and sadness. Yet feelings of loss and heartbreak are a fundamental part of our human experience. If the feelings are not released, they become repressed. Repressed grief becomes depression, a feeling of being ‘stuck,’ unable to access joy, laughter, even sadness. To be truly alive and healthy, the full range of our feelings must find safe expression so as to allow them to pass through.

“The five stages of grief, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with what we have lost. They are tools to help us identify what we may be feeling. But they are not stops on some linear timeline in grief”. Kübler-Ross

Denial helps us to survive the loss. In this stage, the world becomes meaningless and overwhelming.
Anger needs to be felt, even though it may seem endless. The more you truly feel it, the more it will begin to dissipate and the more you will heal.
Bargaining after a loss may take the form of a temporary truce. We become lost in a maze of “If only…” or “What if…” statements.
Depression happens when our attention moves squarely into the present. Empty feelings present themselves, and grief enters our lives on a deeper level.
Acceptance of the present reality and recognizing that this new reality is the permanent reality.

This is not a linear timeline and many people may feel they are “bouncing around” these stages of grief. Personally, for me I have experienced good and bad days over the last three months since the October wildfires. But the fire has given me the opportunity to examine my spiritual practices to identify, honour and release the emotions I have been experiencing. And so, I want to share my personal knowledge and experience on my healing journey in the hope that an idea may inspire you on your own journey to transform your grief.

Healing the Land – I’ve experienced the deep sorrow of our land at Rainbow Lodge since the wildfires destroyed our woodland and blackened our earth. Visiting friends and communities affected by the wildfires has been an emotional experience for me. Like many people here I am sensitive to the energy of the land and that of other people. I have often found myself in tears as my soul takes on the role of transmuting the energy that is present in the landscape and amongst the community. I have been asked to visit many Quintas to rebalance the energy on the land and release the emotions felt by the people. This has resulted in people recovering from ill health and finding the strength to move forward with their dreams.

Personal Grief – Some people may have experienced deep traumatic events during the Wildfire and ideally need to sit with an experienced therapist or counsellor to face and witness personal grief. I have developed techniques to provide people with the tools to heal unresolved trauma. By addressing core emotional traumas, individuals are free to express their true essence and experience a state of joy, unity and wholeness. My collection of techniques combines ancient shamanic wisdom with modern trauma healing methods and some of the latest developments in consciousness research. I believe in our ability to achieve personal transformation of grief.

Community Grief Ritual – It is important to create regular opportunities to be with personal and collective grief, this can be held in a Grief ritual with sacred intention amongst a supportive community group.
If you need a facilitator then I can hold space for a Grief Ritual in your local community. A Grief ritual includes: a heart-opening talking circle to honour and release heartache and grief; grounding meditation; expression from your heart through voice with sound rather than words; shamanic drumming.

What next…
If you feel inspired to contact me for support then I am offering my knowledge and time on a donation basis. I am happy to travel to your community to facilitate a group or even to your land to assist with an energy clearing & rebalance. All I ask for in return is for my fuel costs to be covered and a donation for my time that can be financial or in the form of an energy exchange. Alternatively, you can visit me at Rainbow Lodge Spiritual Retreat centre near Celorico da Beira. Here, I have a therapy room and guest accommodation if you need more personal healing time.

I leave you with some thoughts to reflect upon…
Grief is felt for a connection you have lost.
Grief must be witnessed and not judged.
Pain is inevitable after loss but suffering is optional.
You do not have to become a victim… Peace is possible.

“Honour your Grief as a reflection of your Love”.

Andrea Rathsi, co-founder of Rainbow Lodge Spiritual Retreat,
Telephone: +351 962 929 611
Skype: ishtar.rathsi

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