Relating a death loss to everyday losses

Posted on March 21, 2024 by Rev. Pam Reidy under educating for grief and loss
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Grief and love are sisters, woven together from the beginning. Their kinship reminds us that there is no love that does not contain loss and no loss that is not a reminder of the love we carry for what we once held close.” Francis Weller

Francis Weller is a well-known psychotherapist and author of The Wild Edge of Sorrow. In his book Keller describes five gateways we encounter as we grieve. His compassion for a griever’s sacred dance with sorrow, darkness, love, and fear is exceptional. Relating a death loss to everyday losses and the realities of our humanness, Weller places the reaction to death into the fuller picture of how we approach and cope with loss, believing that even before our first death loss, we know how to grieve. The way we grieve is influenced by our experiences of relationship, love, how we manage sorrow, our past losses, and our emotional stamina.

In The Wild Edge of Sorrow, Weller explores 5 gates of grief. These are not stages, nor are these descriptive of how grief proceeds. The gates are not a map through a death-loss. These are doorways at which we stand to observe what influences our grief journey. Most importantly, Weller maintains we have a sacred duty to register the losses all around us. Here are some highlights of the book:

  • • Grief and sorrow are never too far from us and so we need to be skilled in handling sorrow and grief – Keller likes the image of an apprenticeship because it speaks of commitment and mastering a craft. We are all apprentices in soul work learning to embrace sorrow.
  • • Our culture doesn’t like to talk about grief because we pride ourselves on being in control, not going where sadness will take us. This needs to change.
  • • The five gates can help us understand loss and feel our inner landscape.
  • • The five gates are applicable to many kinds of loss, not only death loss. In fact, often a death loss raises other types of losses to the surface. (marriage/divorce, loss of a job, loss of standing in community or a family, loss of physical health, loss of youth)

5 Gates of Grief

  • All that we love we will lose: The first gate of grief reminds us that change is constant.
    The places that did not receive love At the second gate we identify places in us that may have been neglected or rejected.
  • The sorrows of the world: The third gate is where we encounter and embrace the world’s suffering.
  • What we expected but did not receive At the fourth gate, we face our disappointments and loss of dreams.
  • Ancestral grief: The fifth gate recognizes the pain that we carry for those who came before us.

If you are interested in learning more about Weller’s work, or if you want to learn more about grief after a death loss, please register for this Saturday’s seminar.

Saturday, March 23,2024 — Holden Senior Center 1-3 p.m.


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