2021 - May - Gazette - Breathe in Moments

By: Jackie Naginey Hook
Thursday, May 20, 2021

Breathe in Moments

One by one each of us entered the glass-enclosed circular chapel in the mountains of North Carolina. We removed our shoes and quietly sat down in a circle in the center of the room. The view in every direction looked through the glass to the woods beyond. Soft instrumental music filled the air.

In this group of twenty women, some were lost in the breathtaking scenery, some were lost in their thoughts and some in meditation. We sat in silence. After several minutes our facilitator, author and retreat leader Paula D'Arcy, turned to one woman in the circle and asked, “What are you present to?” That woman began speaking about what was moving inside of her.  One woman spoke about the death of a loved one. Another about financial concerns. One spoke about broken relationships. Another about changes in work status. Most of the sharing included a loss of some kind – life, security, control, esteem, affection, etc. Each woman spoke until she said everything she needed to say, and then the woman to her right took a turn.

There was no cross conversation. There was no feedback provided. Each of us was present to ourselves and to the others in the room. We spoke and we were heard. After everyone’s turn, Paula introduced our topic for the session.

This experience fermented for me the power of both storytelling and silent witnessing. Speaking my words in that safe space helped me heal. It felt like I literally moved a piece of what was inside of me out into a loving container; I felt a little lighter. I breathed in many rich moments. It was as simple as that - speaking what I was present to and being heard.

I’m excited that we are now going to offer these rich moments for people who are grieving the loss of a loved one, through Grieving Together: Losing a Loved One, A Healing Circles Global Program. Healing Circles Global is a nonprofit organization whose goal is to provide “positive social support to anyone who asks for it.” This is done through small circles in which everyone agrees to the following:

  • We treat each other with kindness and respect.
  • We listen with compassion and curiosity.
  • We honor each other’s unique ways to healing and don’t presume to advise, fix, or save one another.
  • We hold all stories shared in the circle confidential.
  • We trust that each of us has the guidance we need within us, and we rely on the power of silence to access it.

Healing Circles Global has circles for many different types of groups – Coming Together, Living with Cancer, Caregivers Together, Supporting Healthcare, Death and Dying and Grieving Together. Meghan McGraw, MEd, NCC, CRC, RN, and I have been trained as Healing Circle hosts and are looking forward to facilitating a Grieving Together: Losing a Loved One series of six virtual sessions on Wednesdays, June 2 through July 7 from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

The 90 minute meetings will begin with a welcome and check-in, followed by time for heart sharing on each week’s topic and then closing with harvesting insights and things learned. Hear these words from a Grieving Together: Losing a Loved One participant: “As for the Healing Circle group, I have found it to be amazing. Somehow we manage to dive in deep very quickly and cover a lot in the allotted time. As hard as it is, it is real. It’s this realness that touches me to my soul. And I come back each week yearning for more.” Meghan and I have seen this realness play out again and again – it’s really about breathing in the moments of what it means to be human.  You are invited to join us.

You are also invited to the following gatherings:

For more information, please visit the Bereavement Gatherings and Events page on the Koch Funeral Home website. To reserve your spot and receive the invitation links, email Jackie@JackieHook.com, call 814-237-2712 or visit the Koch Funeral Home Facebook page @kochFH.

As I was writing this article, the following Oprah Winfrey quote entered my inbox and I think it summarizes my intention well:

When you feel the earth moving, bring yourself back to the now. You’ll handle whatever shake-up the next moment brings when you get to it. In this moment, you’re still breathing. In this moment, you’ve survived. In this moment, you’re finding a way to step onto higher ground.

Jackie Naginey Hook, MA, is a spiritual director, celebrant and end-of-life doula.  She coordinates the Helping Grieving Hearts Heal program through Koch Funeral Home in State College.  For more information, please call 814-237-2712 or visit www.kochfuneralhome.com.

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