How do we do grief?
I sit with my grief. I mother it. I hold its small, hot hand. I don’t say, shhh. I don’t say, its
okay. I wait until it is done having feelings. Then we stand and we go wash the dishes.
We crack open bedroom doors, step over the creaks, and kiss the children.
We are sore from this grief, like we’ve returned from a run, like we are training for
a marathon. I’m with you all the way, says my grief, whispering, and then we splash
our face with water and stretch, one big shadow and one small.
~ Callista Buchen
Grief and the process of grieving absolutely fascinates me, it always has. In
the services that I provide around preparedness for death, dying, death itself
and farewell rituals, for me, bearing witness to countless others grief has been
Grief is not an illness, it is not something we need to pathologise. It is a
completely natural response to loss. The loss of some one, or the loss of some
I have always asked myself, despite the manner of death, or the loss, the what,
the how and the why; does grief manifest in similar ways for all of us?
Is our emotional intelligence so profound, that we are programmed to grieve in
certain comparable ways? I believe that all sentient beings grieve – animals will
grieve at the death of their human owners, and most definitely animal mothers will
openly mourn when separated from their offspring. In a world where
impermanence is a truth for us all, we have all been equipped with this intricate
instinctive response that we are seemingly hard wired with.
Is grief a feeling, like despair, anxiety, hopelessness, or apathy? Is it a way of
‘being’ or is it a ‘doing’?
The feelings in grief are continuously in motion, they come and they go. Grief
stays. Until it abates. Only to return later, with an unexpected trigger, seemingly
out of nowhere. It is all manner of actions, sensations, feelings and behaviours.
And truly, I find grief quite beautiful. A reaction to death, loss and separation,
it actually shows up usually alongside love, for it is a loving heart that grieves.
Are grief and love polar opposites? No, to me, one is the loving midwife to the
other. Something about grief is teaching you, asking you to be with the
impermanence of things, the impermanence of life here. I know, it seems an
impossible reality for us to resolve, but being able to stand somehow, in the
understanding of this basis of all life, is profound and actually, for me, deepens
an attachment to life.
Given the absolute surety of us all experiencing grief in our life, most likely
countless times, in differing ways, how do we as a society, as a community and
as a family ‘do' our grief? What do we teach our children of it? How do we equip
them to face grieving experiences as they grow into their lives?
How do we support one another, how do we speak of grief, what cringe-worthy
cliches are we programmed to say, how do we stand as observers to anothers
grief and how is it that collectively we can grow to do this differently?
Let’s start by seeing others in their vulnerability, in their grief, by hearing their
words, meeting them where they are. By holding space for grief conversations.
Let us, let grief speak.
Subscribe to my monthly newsletter,
Grief Growth, where I provide relatable information, tips and resources for those of us who are grieving.
Grief Support & Navigation
Support on offer
Individual grief conversations
Face to face group grief circles
Zoom grief circles and support groups
Individual 1 on 1 grief support (referral typically from families I have already supported with a funeral)
Training provided to staff working in grief-impacted industries (e.g. aged care, hospice, funeral homes)
The place and necessity of grief in life (workshop) - available to groups of 10+ attendees
Referral to local support networks and resources
What do I know of grief?
Whilst for many years I have read, studied, gained formal qualifications and sought to assimilate the academic theory and models of grief and grieving, by far the greatest teacher I have ever had is simply that of lived experience and observation.
I would consider myself a grief survivor, having navigated several significant losses and grief events in my life, but I hold no superiority in that title, as most of us, traversing our own life paths will have survived their grief
What was invaluable for me to learn, early on in life, was the place of grief, the necessity of it and both intuitively and via my own research, how to engage in the work of grief. How to understand what was happening and how to choose consciously, when appropriate, to engage with my grief.
This resulted in me, in time, emerging healthy, whole and transformed. I also had greater awareness of how to assimilate various tools in to my every day life, to deal with unavoidable grief that surfaced from the act of living - relationship break-downs, careers ending, decline in physical health, death of beloved pets, things I expected but did not receive, and on, and on.
The other significant grief learning I was privileged to integrate, resulted from consistently being in the place and space of others who are grieving. Through bearing witness, over and over, to how others grieve and by asking what it is they needed when in this transition. As a funeral director, hospice volunteer, end of life doula, life coach, disability support worker, funeral celebrant and hands on caregiver, I have sat in spaces that other people aren't so familiar with.
I have been blessed to have learned alongside accomplished, compassionate and like minded mentors along my way. My most treasured mentorship and friendship was with Rev. Dr Ian Mavor (OAM), the founder and Executive Director of Hopewell Hospice and Paradise Kids, here on the Gold Coast. His gentle and humble spirit supported me, encouraged me and inspired me as I assimilated the grief understanding which is my lifes work. I am privileged to be a grief ambassador for the Ian Mavor Foundation, his legacy, continuing to provide integral education, health and spirituality to those in need.
Was I ready for grief when it first arrived? Oh, no.
Did others pain and unimaginable circumstances impact me?
Did witnessing others circumstances initially cleave me open, threaten to break my heart and bear down upon me with emotional weightiness? Oh, yes.
But over time, familiarity grew. Acceptance expanded. Understanding and comfort cocooned me. I joke that my super power is sitting with things that most other people find too hard.
Grief and I are, and always have been, familiar. Now, we are familiar friends.
Your grief is welcome here.
Please contact Lisa direct for confirmation of current service charges.
Charges vary according to specific needs and a sliding scale applies to individual circumstances:
Clarity Call - complimentary initial phone conversation (15-20 minutes) to discuss and determine specific needs.
Reduced fee for first face to face consultation.
Hourly fee charged for chosen services thereafter (needs determined after initial consultation and comprehensive evaluation).
Fixed fee for funeral and memorial celebrant services.
Fixed fee for other tailored rituals and services e.g. living wake; mini service at viewings; washing and dressing at home
Tailored packages for extended services (that include regular meetings, personalised inclusions, in home care and vigil over a period of time).
Call out fee for after hours.
After hours phone contact available by prior arrangement.