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Communal Grief Retreat

 facilitated by Ahlay Blakely

& Laurence Cole 

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February 4th & 5th, 2023

9:30am - ~8pm Both Days

Center for Rural Livelihoods,

Cottage Grove, OR

This in-person 2-day grief retreat is facilitated by Ahlay Blakely & Laurence Cole. WOVEN is hosting this offering because we believe that communal grieving can provide a pathway for more love, both within ourselves and in community. 


Sobonfu Somé, who brought communal grief practices from her Dagara people of Burkina Faso to the U.S., said: 


“I believe the future of our world depends greatly on the manner in which we handle our grief. Positive expressions of our grief are healing. However, the lack of expression of our grief or its improper release is what is at the root of the general unhappiness and depression that people feel, all of which lead to war and crimes. 

Communal grieving offers something that we cannot get when we grieve by ourselves. Through validation, acknowledgement and witnessing, communal grieving allows us to experience a level of healing that is deeply and profoundly freeing. Each of us has a basic human right to that genuine love, happiness and freedom.” - Sobonfu Somé


Whatever shape or form grief comes in - perhaps numbness, shame, rage, trembling, stillness, wailing or something else - if it can be felt, there is a possibility that it can be released. 


Our time together will be a combination of singing, poetry, movement, practice in sacred listening, witnessing and being witnessed.


Within a supportive communal grieving space, we can expand our ways of processing grief. Because “supportive” is different for each individual, the unique collection of people present will co-create agreements with the intention of growing the trust needed to enter into this work together. The container held by Ahlay & Laurence holds us as humans in all our complexity, celebrates differences, invites realness, accepts messiness and mistakes, and also honors requests for pauses and space. 


This ceremony is informed by many tributaries of teachers, including Joanna Macy,  the professional mourning women of Greece & Italy, the keeners of Ireland and Scotland, the Mikonenet from the Jewish lineage, the late Sobonfu and Malidoma Somé, Francis Weller, Martin Prechtel, Stephen Jenkinson, the immense amount of compounded grief of our times, Whales & many more. To learn more about the lineage of this grief ritual, click here

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