A couple of months ago I asked my facebook friends for any recommendations for inspiring books on grief, this one “The Wild Edge of Sorrow by Francis Weller” was suggested a few times, so I brought it.
I am so pleased that I did !
This is an extraordinary book which spoke directly to me. Using beautiful poetic language it is a comprehensive guide for conscious grieving and insights into the nature of loss, including separation from community and nature and the importance of ritual.
It is the first time that I have ever felt inspired to write my own book summary just for myself to re-read some of the rich prose.
Here are a few words from the book that I connected with :-
“Sorrow is a sustained note in the song of being alive.”
“There is some intimacy between grief and aliveness, some sacred exchange between what seems unbearable and what is most exquisitely alive.”
“Psychological moralism” places enormous pressure on us to always be improving, feeling good, and rising above our problems. Happiness has become the new mecca. This forces sorrow, pain, fear, weakness, and vulnerability into the underworld, where they fester and mutate into contorted expressions of themselves, often coated in a mantel of shame.”
“Silence and solititude invite us to pause, slow down and stop. We live in a highly extroverted culture in which everything is expresses and exposed. “ We are addicted to disclosure” and need to learn the skills of restraint, of holding close to the heart what needs our utmost attention.”
“It takes outrageous courage to face outrageous loss.”
written by Annie x
It’s the time of year where Buddhists mark the death of the Buddha. All over the world people will have be having these ’Paranirvana Day’ events. It’s often used as a time to reflect on death and to remember loved ones who have died in the previous year.
Here is an interview with Siddhisambhava/jan Parker, who is leading the workshop ‘Death and the Only Beauty that Lasts’ which Tara Sanctuary is hosting on 1st and 2nd April (see Facebook page, under ‘Events’.) She describe what the workshop involves, the beauty of opening up to the truth of death, and how this work relates to Buddhist practice. If you’d like to come you do need to book in advance.
A message from Siddhisambhava about the video:
I hope everyone will find this interview thought prokoving. I want to add that it was an interview of one long time buddhist practioner (me) by another and stress – as I say on my website death page about my workshops – that my workshops are open to everyone, those of all faiths or none.
Here is our new logo for Tara Sanctuary. It’s been quite a process to get here! It was created by Liz Verde, Bristol designer. We said the most important thing to convey was a sense of ‘life and death held together, in relation to each other.’ We also wanted it to give a sense of natural beauty, refinement, ‘bespoke hand-made’, sensitivity, warmth, and gravitas, and to induce confidence!
We’d actually gone through a whole process, with Ryan James and designer Peter Simon, to get to this stage of having a clear brief. Ryan, who is part of our team and has expertise in marketing and branding, explained that actually a huge part of this kind of design process is getting a proper brief, ie actually getting clear on the essence of what you are about, what you want to convey through your logo and branding.
A while back we had a team meeting where we’d looked again at our mission statement, and this idea of death in relation to life was the strongest thread. It runs through all the different elements of the project. You could say the natural burial movement is all about having a life-affirming relationship to death; as opposed to death being hidden away, negated, taboo. I was very struck by a comment by Kirsten Kratz (teacher at Gaia House). She said that ‘denying grief is life-denying’. So embracing grief, embracing the reality of death and dying is life-affirming. Developing the burial site to become a nature reserve – a haven for wildlife and biodiversity – is also life-affirming: death leading to new life. Also the retreats we have on the land will – I hope – address our denial of impermanence and death, in order to wake up to the preciousness of human life.
We are delighted to introduce a new member of the team at the Tara Sanctuary, our intrepid Land Finder – Lucy White – who has been charged with scouting out the perfect tranquil, scenic and geologically appropriate site for our proposed Natural Burial Ground and Retreat Centre.
Departures is a beautiful, provocative, evocative, charming, sumptuous, life-affirming film about death and our ever-challenging relationship with it.
Set in Japan, the story revolves around a young man who’s forced to give up on his dream profession and move back home in pursuit of something that will pay the bills. To compound his disappointment the only employer willing to cut him a break is the local mortuary – not something he’s utterly thrilled about!
But needs must and after much wrestling with his own conscience (and his partner) he starts to warm to the role in a way that surprises and enlightens him, and takes him on a captivating journey of self-discovery, exploring the full range of emotions that death forces one to confront.
As we quickly come to realise, ‘encoffinment’ in Japan is a job undertaken in full sight of the grieving family and is, in many respects, a seemingly more humane process than the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ process of undertaking in the UK.
That said, the compassion and consideration brought to the job by Daigo and his mentor, Mr. Sasaki, take this important process to another level, turning it into an enthralling, poetic art form that helps to bring a much deeper sense of closure for all concerned.
So much so, that when Daigo is faced with a death much closer to home he’s presented with a unique opportunity to face his own difficult emotions head on and say goodbye in the most beautiful, enchanting way possible that brings tears to your eyes and joy to your heart.
And that’s exactly the kind of thing that makes this film such a captivating watch. It tackles the subject of death from all angles. It makes you laugh. It makes you cry. It shocks you. It warms you. It grips you. It entertains you. It questions you.