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Gillian Sanger

Holding space for grief

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Dear Rachel,

My heart goes out to you! I can only imagine the mix of emotions that you are experiencing at the moment. What a challenging time this must be. I am glad to hear at least that these emotions are all welcome at your table (which reminds me of a poem I shared elsewhere in the forum recently - The Guest House by Rumi). And yet still jarring of course, especially when it was completely unexpected.

I find it difficult to know what to say in these times as words cannot heal heartache, and I've not read (to my memory) any books specifically related to this experience. However, one book that I know many have received great support from is:

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times - by Pema Chödrön

This next suggestion is not related to heartache, but for some reason, it crept into my consciousness just now (and might be nourishing for you!). I read this a few years ago:

The Dance by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

RAIN meditations could be extra nourishing at this time, which you might already be practicing.

Have you found anything else since you made this post that is of support for you?

Sending you plenty of tender love and care!

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I thank you for your kind and soothing message.  And for the reading recommendations.  I’m very grateful.

I have been going for long walks and visiting my favorite tree each day, which has soothed me at the edges.  I’ve also been doing root based, grounding yoga practices where the flow of apana (downward flowing energy)  is activated and helps to stabilize me.  Sitting in daily meditations with forgiveness and acceptance at the heart.  Lots of journaling and herbal tea too.

As we experience life, we change.  I have used previous periods of transition in my life as opportunities to explore the self and to allow for whatever change was meant to arrive through the difficulty.  That is sort of where I am right now.  I am looking into somatic therapy (as opposed to traditional talk therapy) as a new way to learn about patterns and the imprints from my past as well.  

It has been an unusual time to be in a relationship from a distance, and now for it to end at a distance is equally odd.  So I’m very grateful to this community for their presence and support.

Be well, everyone.  



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Hi Rachel,

It really sounds like you are taking care of yourself in multiple ways. It is so inspiring to hear that! And that's a beautiful way to navigate this transition - to explore the self and the very nature of change.  I don't know too much about somatic therapy but am going to look into it.

Continue to take care. I wish you much love this coming week.


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I lost my father 12 years ago from motor neuron disease. Just a month after his death. We found out my twin sister had a brain tumour. It was malignant and at a stage 4 when diagnosed. I was heartbroken. She was living in England and I in Ireland, but I went to see her as often as I could. A year after her diagnosis, she died. And so did a part of me. I still find it hard, that I can not remember her funeral and so much that went on even before she died. They diagnosed me with complicated grief, and I was seeing a psychologist.It was probably the best thing I could have done.

I slowly understood that I needed my own self compassion. I had to be a friend to myself and say comforting things such as." I know you are hurting. It's okay, sweetheart; you need not feel guilty for being alive. This was out of your control. You did what you could, and you need not feel shame for not remembering everything. I meditated deeply and heard Joan, my twin's voice saying," this will be okay. I will take care of you. I am here. I slowly came to terms with my loss. I will always miss her, but I feel I can get in touch anytime I want to. I wrote poems and songs for her. And that helps to keep her memory alive. 

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Mary, thank you for sharing this. Your story embodies the preciousness of life and the pain that can come with that. I am sorry to hear about your losses. At the same time, I am happy that you have found a new relationship with your twin, connecting in a more subtle yet just as vibrant and loving way. I also think that developing self-compassion is so important, tending to ourselves with kindness, care, patience, and tenderness.

Sending you many blessings ❤️

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