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Bereavement Circles: Grief is a Shape-Shifter

Grief is a Shape-Shifter: Embracing grief as a part of our lives.

In 2018, after experiencing the death of my father in law, the death of my step-mother as well as experiencing a loss of a relationship with my mother to dementia and a loss of connection with my identical twin sister - all occurring within a year created a numbness in me. The grief that I experienced (and continue to experience) left me in a mental and emotional state of denial which motivated me to initiate my Bereavement Circle Facilitation practice with Lanark County Home Support.

Why? With my past experience as a Restorative Communication Facilitator with youth in schools (2016/LCCJ) and in outdoor circle classrooms (2003) , I felt comfortable in a facilitating role to commit to holding a vulnerable circle space for the bereaved. I started to facilitate in a Bereavement Cafe Circle Group (2018/LCHS) where circle participants met once per month to share our grief stories. Lanark County Home Support then initiated a 7 week Bereavement Session for people who had experienced a recent loss of a loved one. After co-facilitating 3 seven week programs with a colleague, I realized the dyer need in the community for bereavement services. The Circle provides a platform of confidentiality while participants empathize with other's vulnerabilities: Processing the multiple stages in the grief process is different to each and every person and through active listening to other circle participant’s grief stories helps all in the circle to reflect on where they are at mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually within their personal bereavement process. Adjusting to change while facing the shock of pain and loss is a challenge and we all need not be afraid to ask for help. It’s ok to ask for help and not to be alone in your grief. I have witnessed first-handedly that the there is a sense of relief when one has the courage to express themselves and share their vulnerable feelings with others without feeling like a burden. The Bereavement Circle offers a safe space to share in a cry-free zone where confidentiality is agreed upon and practiced by all circle participants which confirms the safety of sharing in the circle space.

Bereavement circle work is very important -especially now- with the Covid Bereaved who are kept away from loved ones in isolation as well as with our dear elderly experiencing a lonely death without having their family by their side.

When working with bereavement, there are core circle practices that brings forth joy to the circle: Gratitude and appreciation circle rounds have a significant part of the circle conversation to restore strength in the gifts our loved ones have shared with us in our lifetime. Thinking about the tiniest things that bring us joy helps us along the way especially when overwhelmed by the grieving process.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Grief is like a roller coaster with very high peaks and very lo lows and every feeling in-between is acknowledged in the circle. To express these emotions with others may be frighteningly vulnerable, yet essential for our healing.

Throughout the month of February 2021, I will be hosting a 5 week Virtual Bereavement Circle through MERA School House Community Hub. Presently I am continuing to co-facilitating another 7 week Bereavement Program through Lanark County Home Support.

For those who have lost a loved one and interested in participating in the Five Week MERA House Bereavement Group scheduled on Tuesdays at 1 pm, starting February 23rd, 2021. Please connect with me personally through my website or phone# 6132781755.

For those who have lost a loved one recently and are in need of a seven week bereavement program. Connect with Lanark County Home Support:


or Patricia Koeslag:

Restorative Circle Practices 


Nature as a Mentor

“In this process of unlearning, in the process of feeling and hearing the plants again,
one comes to realize many things.”

-Stephen Harrod Buhner