February 15 2021
Here is more of the “Heartfelt Support” article:
In one of our support series, we asked the group to think of the person who had been most supportive of them on their grief journeys. Without fail, each person spoke of someone who had experienced a great loss themselves. But if we haven’t experienced a great loss, how do we know how to best support ourselves and others?
Here again, we can listen to our hearts. Our hearts know how to be a compassionate and healing presence. Alan Wolfelt, Ph.D., created the philosophy of grief companioning. Companioning is about…
- Being present to another person’s pain; it is not about taking away the pain.
- Going to the wilderness of the soul with another human being; it is not about thinking you are responsible for finding the way out.
- Honoring the spirit; it is not about focusing on the intellect.
- Listening with the heart; it is not about analyzing with the head.
- Bearing witness to the struggles of others; it is not about judging or directing these struggles.
- Walking alongside; it is not about leading.
- Discovering the gifts of sacred silence; it is not about filling up every moment with words.
- Being still; it is not about frantic movement forward.
- Respecting disorder and confusion; it is not about imposing order and logic.
- Learning from others; it is not about teaching them.
- Compassionate curiosity; it is not about expertise.
Whether we are grieving ourselves or companioning others in their grief, we can listen to our hearts and provide heartfelt support. Humans have been grieving for centuries and are hardwired to do it.
First printed in the Centre County Gazette January 28 – February 3, 2021.