Thursday, October 18, 2012

Elder Dancer Wisdomosity: Moving through Grief

I have written many times about a man named Ken who inspired me to start dancing again, and it is his beautiful wife who has inspired this newest part of my teaching journey.

I have watched her mourning him and I have been so disheartened...

I have been disheartened by people's inability to allow her to mourn, by our culture's complete impatience with the process of mourning -- a process that is different for every single person and has no time tables, no steps on some ladder of right ways, no end goals.

I have watched as people have no idea what to say to her, as people try to push her (gently...but still pushing) through what they think of as proper "procedures."

She comes from the South so she had some additional and beautiful rituals that we in the North lack. For example, she put a black wreathe on her door. I found this poignant and appropriate, but I am quite sure that many of my fellow Northerners thought it "morbid."

As if.

In a culture that brainwashes us to believe that youth is the ultimate possession, death is no longer considered...polite.

We have cut down on viewing hours and we rush to the funeral and then we rush to get back to living. Though I have observed recently that now even the funeral is often skipped.

The Victorians had death rituals that made sense.  They lasted.  They didn't expect you to take a week off and then get back to it.  People in mourning were separated through their clothing...a symbolic standing aside, just a bit outside of "normal."

We need this.  We need to take the time to acknowledge the significance of the change.

We need time to process and to adjust and to create new normals.

The old normals don't work anymore.  They can't.  Everything has changed.

And so, looking around at all of this and thinking about all of this and noticing that all the women to whom I teach Elder Dance are widows, my very focused brain started to wonder if there was a way to create movement and dance rituals that accompany people in their grieving, that help us process and grow, that allow us the space and time and safety to be exactly where we are.

I put out a call for information and leads and ended up being connected to two separate widows' bereavement groups that allowed me to come in and share some just-seeded ideas and movement work with them.

Now those seeds have sprouted and with a little light and water, I have a feeling that I have planted something really quite beautiful.  We shall see...