A five-week series of grief tending through the lens of ecology and animism
Many of us are now directly experiencing the impacts of the climate crisis, socio-enviromental unraveling, as well as the anticipatory grief of what's to come. Many of us are grappling with how to live during times like these. Many of us lack connection to community, to the natural world, and to spaces where we can vulnerably share what we are going through. Many of us were never taught how to grieve and experience overwhelm when faced with the task, limiting the experience of the fullness, vibrancy, and soulfulness of life.
Holding Earth is a five-week virtual grief workshop series that provides a space to collectively encounter our grief, co-create community, and to more deeply understand and connect to the ecologies in which we are embedded. We will make space for difficult feelings while also celebrating joy, curiosity, and beauty. It is the underlying principle of this group that through this connection -- to the places we live and with each other -- that we can strengthen our resiliency, capacity, soulful presence, and sense of belonging to the wider world. The skill of grief is a fundamental part of living in tumultuous and uncertain times; it is through grief tending that we find our way through the dark with our hearts open.
Session One : Containment and Flow
To understand grief, both individually and collectively, while developing the skill of grief-tending.
How can we create the conditions to make space for our grief as well as the grief of others?
Session Two : Connection and Interrelating
To understand the role of relationship to others, both human and more-than human, when encountering grief.
How can grieving be a process of deeper connection and belonging rather than isolation and individualism?
Session Three : Transformational Processes
To recognize that grief is a transformational process that is an essential part of life, reflected in the natural world.
How can we look to the natural world to inform how we move through dark and uncertain times?
Session Four : Resiliency and Staying With
To honor losses while loving the living; placing ourselves in the context of place as a source of connection and resiliency.
How do we imagine ourselves transformed by grief and practice grief as a skill?
Session Five : Collective Visioning
To look toward the imaginal, creative, and ritual as a source of way-finding.
How does grief become a part of the fabric of our lives that reaches out into the collective?
+ We meet virtually via Zoom on Wednesday evenings from 5:30pm - 7:00pm Pacific on January 10, January 17, January 24, January 31, and February 7. Please attend as many as possible to maintain the cohesion of the group. These will not be recorded.
+ Each gathering contains some foundational grief education, practices (creative, somatic, and/or ecological), and guided space to share, process, feel, and connect within community.
+ In an effort to keep this affordable, this is offered by sliding scale payment. The price is $50 - $200 for all five gatherings. If this is inaccessible to you, please email me and we can discuss options; all are welcome regardless of financial means.
+ Grief belongs to people and should not reside exclusively in the realm of mental health. That being said, sometimes additional support is needed. This space is not therapy and I am not a licensed mental health professional. Please ensure you have any additional support you may need outside of this group.
Values + Agreements
+ In speaking about the climate crisis, we recognize that this is not solely about the environment, but is ultimately, a social and relational topic. Our climate grief is tied to all grief and our grief is not solely about death, but all experiences of loss, change, transformation, and longing; all of this is welcome.
+ We find paths toward respectful relationship with other human beings and the more-than-human world. We assume one another's best intentions and approach others with curiosity and space to grow. Discrimination of any kind is not tolerated.
+ We all bring different perspectives, identities, experience, and access points while coming from varied backgrounds that will inform our understanding and relationship to both the climate crisis and to grieving. We recognize that time and space to grieve is not a given in our society. We respect our differences and learn from one another; our variation creates a rich and strong ecosystem.
+ We bear witness to one another's grief while not attempting to fix or change it. What comes up is welcome. Simple witnessing is powerful.
+ Emotional, social, and spiritual health are essential to dealing with socio-environmental crisis. These matter just as much as political action. While we may touch on other dimensions of the crisis, this space makes prominent and specific room for our grief.
"From beginning to end, Maria's knowledge and skill level were evident. The embodiment, writing and sharing exercises built into her grief workshop were facilitated with thoughtfulness, care and an impeccable sense of timing, each activity moving seamlessly into the next without the lag time or awkwardness often felt during video conferencing workshops. Maria has an uncanny ability to read the room, a special gift for holding gentle, calm command of the space, and a sensitivity to what is needed in the present moment that is only matched by her integrity as a human being. I cannot recommend her grief workshop strongly enough." - Haas
"Maria facilitated a session for exploring anger in grief. I cried unexpectedly when I saw myself in the person who desires to inflict pain on others because of unprocessed grief. I cried for all the perpetrators/victims in the world who did wrong/were wronged because people didn’t have the space or teachers to help them be with the grief that is too big to hold alone. Maria’s work could not be more important." - Amanda L
Where I'm Coming From
Hi, I'm Maria (she/they). My background is highly interdisciplinary spanning from science, conservation, social justice, environmental education, and the arts. Much of what I've done throughout the years has had an underlying or direct connection with environmental grief including my work with Bycatch and Mother Earth and the accompanying Climate Ribbon Project as well as facilitating a Dark Mountain Project reading group since early 2020. My perspective is informed by my educational and professional background, though I experience the world through an animist understanding.
In 2020, I reached a turning point in my life. I had recently completed a Master's degree in marine science while recognizing that I felt more suited to work with people and the environment in a relational, emotional, and somatic way while working toward a cultural shift. All the while, I was facing what felt like insurmountable loss and grief in my personal life as well as from what was occurring globally. I was struck by the lack of resources, support, and even basic acknowledgement of what we all were (and are) going through. The times we are living in are calling us to reexamine how we do everything -- including how we support one another.
So, I dedicated a lot of time and energy towards creating what I wish existed more readily. In addition to the experience stated above, I've taken a Grief Immersion for Death Workers certification course with Inviting Abundance, a certification course to be trauma-informed and practiced with body-based regulation tools through a Somatic Embodiment and Nervous System Regulation Strategies course with Linda Thai, Coming Back to Ourselves: Embodiment and Culture in Grieving and a Mentoring Circle with Shauna Janz as well as Francis Weller's series, Facing the World with Soul and ritual training Entering the Healing Ground. I've learned significantly about grief from the teachings of Martín Prechtel and Stephen Jenkinson, particularly in his series Grief/Dirt and Homecoming as well as animist teacher Bayo Akomolafe in We Will Dance with Mountains. I also volunteer at Tu Nidito working with grieving children and families in Tucson. All of this being said, much of griefwork is about unlearning dominant culture and the interlinked systems of oppression in order to reclaim the practice of grief and hold space for others to grieve with care. Much of my learning in this regard has been a substantial part of my formal education experience as well as additional trainings.
Perhaps more importantly, I have been a griever with particular attention to the living world since I was a child. Some of my first memories are connected to this grief and the questions it stirred, all of which has informed my work to this day. I've long felt to be a student of death, in a sense, having had multiple near death experiences in my early life. I've been privileged to have had significant access to the natural world and talented teachers of art, ecology, and the social spheres, who have challenged me to see and connect in different and deeper ways. The more-than-human inhabitants of the deserts, marine environments, and forests where I've lived have taught me about connection, relationship, grief, and how to be human more than any other teacher. It has often been a lonely experience to feel such grief in an over-culture that diminishes, pathologizes, and lacks space for it. What has made the difference for me is to have community with others who grieve collectively -- this process has the ability to open us into incredible joy, gratitude, and a rich multi-dimensional experience of life. It illuminates our common humanity in a time where that is so, so needed.
I would describe my approach to griefwork as "ecological griefwork", meaning it is both informed by ecology as well as is, in it's own right, a process of reconnection and recognizing our inherent belonging. Grieving is the work of the heart and is based in practices of connection. Having access to our hearts is one of the most valuable things we can do -- and, is often one of the most challenging things to do when living during difficult times that seek to systematically rupture this connection. Griefwork guides a reclamation.
If you have any questions before registering, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
"To truly and freely grieve as an entire people can revive an entire culture just as much
as it can bring back to life an individual."
-- Martín Prechtel