The Self Care Grief Workshops for Compassionate Friends
The Self Care Grief Workshops I delivered at the weekend went well. The weather was great so we spent time outdoors, and the attendees absolutely loved the space clearing techniques and individual Drum Healing Sessions I gave. It was so popular we had drop-ins of the human and bird kind, all wanting to get a bit of the lovely healing energy.
Each year the Workshops at the Retreat have a different focus, (that depends on the brief given to me by the Compassionate Friends organisers and the needs of the parents who attend). As I said in previous posts both here and on facebook in 2015 their international media campaign is focusing on suicide to raise awareness of this issue. Current statistics suggest that every four hours someone somewhere takes their own life, and while the implications of this are far reaching, it also means that every four hours two or more parents become bereaved through the loss of a child, and every parent knows that whether your ‘child’ is a baby, teenager, adult or even a grandparent at the time of their death – they are still a child to its parents, and the loss and grief is profound.
Who Are The Compassionate Friends?
Compassionate Friends offer valuable support to help families and parents in their loss and they are always ready to help without judgement as to how your child lived or died. While they help parents navigate the pathway of their grief in the short and long term, they also enable parents to develop their own helping skills. Often after parents have gone through the initial shock and trauma of their own loss of a child, they want to give back to others, to offer their support however they can. In the process those who are helping others need to have good techniques for self-care as well as strong support systems.
So this past weekend the Self Care Grief Workshops I delivered focused on helping parents support themselves, while helping others. This is very important in any situation where we help others, to not only know our own limits and boundaries, but also how to receive professional support when needed. In grief support work it can be very draining, so some of the techniques I showed them focused on energy building, clearing and maintenance in the physical body and subtle bodies.
Working With Grief
In grief work we also need to be able to recognise our own grief or feelings that may be impacted by the discussions, actions and feelings of others, as they explore and travel their own pathways of grief. Then of course there are always the unexpected triggers that come with loss – a piece of music, special events, birthdays and family gatherings. Then there are the unexpected encounters with people, officials, photographs and other things that trigger feelings of loss.
Create a Personal Self Care Kit
One thing I always recommend in my Self Care Grief Workshops is to create a self-care kit that is always accessible. This kit may have music that you know will always inspire, uplift or soothe. Some people always carry fishing or sport gear in their car as they know that doing these things helps them move through grief.
You will of course have your own things that are important, like self help and audio books, candles, matches, incense, perhaps positive memories in scrap books. The point is have whatever is helpful to you in it, have it ready before-hand and always have it easy to reach. Don’t forget to put some money in the kit that enables you to put gas in the car, or get a train ticket, or buy food when that complete loss takes over and it all seems too hard.
Your kit will also include mental self-help techniques that you know work, and are part of your mental health self care kit – ie your kit doesn’t have to be all ‘physical’ and it can contain positive thoughts and personal mantras. Its really important that you also always have a person you can call who is reliable and non-judgemental.
Getting Support When You Need It
Support is extremely important during grieving, and that is why Compassionate Friends assist their ‘people’ in as many ways as possible, providing opportunities for them to get together, share stories, get some pampering and do some things just for themselves.
The theme of the Retreat this year was ‘Sending The Spirit Free’ and the symbol for this was Butterflies. One of the parents put up Balinese butterfly sarongs; did a painting of butterflies; and placed butterfly plaques in the wildflower garden. A few live butterflies came to visit this year as well.
Once again however the star visitor at the Retreat was one of the baby kookaburras. During his visit he ate some cake, did some tricks and had a sing along. I did not know that these beautiful birds could eat cake – and survive – but this one – pictured underneath one of the sarongs did. He needed a good bath though – as his feathers on his belly and crest were smothered in mud.