On September 16, we had the opportunity to spend the day leading a workshop on The Nature of Grief in Asheville, NC. The wilderness therapy organization, SUWS of the Carolinas, made the event possible, attached continuing professional development credits, and invited social service professionals from around the region and the country.
Grief is not an easy topic and grief and the wilderness are rarely considered together. Our investigations that day were rich and practical. In particular, it became clear that the wilderness therapy and the natural world are powerful as generous companions for people moving through grief. By the close of the workshop, groups of participants had generated guiding insights from the day’s discussions.
We are inspired by what we heard and learned in Asheville, and are including some of the participant groups’ insights here for you to consider, too.
- Beauty, Community, Mystery.
- There is healing in actively receiving beauty without cognitive filters.
- Brains can change. “What fires together, wires together.”
- In times of grief, loss and overwhelming disorientation, the therapist’s role is to sit with the person and not need to seek a solution but to be IN the experience and feel it alongside them.
- As one’s sense of self changes through developmental stages, the relationship to grief and experience of grief also change.
- Sometimes you pick the journey. Sometimes it picks you.
- The boulder becomes a stone in your pocket.
- Grief can be a gift to connect or reconnect with things the world avoids.
- Through experiencing challenges in the wilderness, such as rain, that are related to the individual, the helper’s role can be to help the individual shift their relationship to struggle and suffering and make it less personal. Learning the lesson that nature doesn’t do anything personally.