Grief Dancer

Whatever we may feel about the state of our lives or the planet—anger, fear, despair,
we are compelled to admit that underlying all of it is deep, deep grief.
Feeling and expressing our grief helps heal the earth and ourselves.




Entering the Sacred Ground of Grief, Gratitude & Ecstasy



Grief never has been and never will be a private matter. It requires being witnessed and supported by one’s community.  Grief is a conscious acknowledgment of sorrow and sadness in the body regarding loss.  In fact, research has shown us what unfelt grief does to the body and to our relationships.  Most cultures in the world not only acknowledge grief but respect and welcome it, and their communities hold public grief rituals on a regular basis. They believe that a community cannot be stable nor its members relate to each other in a healthy manner without grieving regularly. In Western culture such a respect and welcoming of grief is, to our severe detriment, sadly missing.

In a world fraught with pain, injustice and uncertainty, we most often find ourselves left to deal with our dark emotions alone, on our own.  Historically, this is unprecedented and even today, most cultures around the world welcome the dark emotions and consider it a necessary aspect of healthy community living.  Not only is it healthy, the act of grieving together as a community has the effect of touching not only the painful places within, but the most ecstatic and joyful as well.  Because we live in a culture that is so grief-phobic, it makes perfect sense that we would assume the worst and not realize that grieving is powerful for many reasons including physical and emotional release, increased emotional resilience, closer and more heart-felt connection with people we care about, and the experience of ecstasy and joy.

This afternoon workshop will provide a safe place for people to connect deeply with their grief and discover the relationship between the dark emotions, joy, ecstasy and real mental and emotional health.  It will be a place where people know that they are protected and supported in having this experience. We encourage people to access the grief they carry in their bodies and consciously surrender it and share their experiences in the container of community. The intention of this process we will be going through is to provide an opportunity for healing ourselves, healing other members of the community, and healing the earth. Drawing on community trust building activities, dance, vocalizing, writing, and ritual, we will embark on a journey together toward an understanding and opening to the Five Gates of Grief.

An Introduction to the Five Gates of Grief, from Francis Weller

Week 1)   The first gate is called “Everything I Love I Will Lose”—At this gate we lose relationships, we may lose a home taken away by foreclosure; we lose a career; we lose friends and places that we loved. We may lose body parts through an amputation or mastectomy. We may lose an animal. Anything that we love, we will lose, and our hearts will be broken.

Week 2)   The second gate is called “Places That Have Not Known Love”—These are places within ourselves that have never known love because they have been wrapped in shame or guilt. They have been banished and sent away. These are the parts of us that we perceive as defective. Often our grief about these parts isn’t expressed through tears but through anger and rage. So the path to healing is to grieve these parts of ourselves because they affirm that we are worth crying over and that our losses matter.

3)   The third gate of grief is called “The Sorrows Of The World”—This gate  of grief opens when we register the losses of the world around us.  Whether we realize it or not, the daily diminishment of species, habitats and cultures is noted in our psyches. Much of the grief we carry is not personal, but shared, communal.  It takes everything we have to deny the sorrows of the world.  Pablo Neruda said, “I know the earth, and I am sad.”

4)   The fourth gate is called “What I Expected But Didn’t Receive”—Most of us have so many of these that we have forgotten them or hidden them deep inside. Because it’s in our DNA, we expected to be received and held in a loving community as children. Because it’s in our DNA we expected to be lovingly guided through rites of passage in our adolescence. Because it’s in our DNA, we expected to find and live our purpose in life, really knowing and really contributing our unique and extraordinary gifts to the world. In other words, many of us feel spiritually unemployed.

5)   The fifth gate is called “Ancestral Grief”—This is the grief we carry in our bodies from sorrows experienced by our ancestors. This includes the sorrows of our ancestors that we may not even be consciously aware of, and it includes the collective sorrows of the abuses perpetrated onto and by our ancestors. This very ground on which we stand is within a couple of miles of a major passageway of the Underground Railroad from the Confederacy to the North. Slavery. We also stand very near the Gettysburg Battlefield. The Civil War. Native American genocide. The Nazi holocaust. Hiroshima. Nagasaki.

Dates, times and locations to be announced