I am sitting down to write to you as the sun begins to think about leaving us for the day. It has been glorious again here in Vevey. Blue skies, a gentle summer breeze and such beauty and warmth that I frequently find myself smiling, seemingly without cause but with a sweet gratitude for my many blessings.
I am here writing and speaking to the inevitablitiy of endings, the nature of which I am becoming more and more familiar with. Towards the end of this newsletter I share with you what I know of the ‘what’s coming up next’ and I end with a short poem by David Whyte.
My time here in Switzerland is drawing to a close and this last week I have begun my goodbyes and leaving rituals. It is nearly one year since my beloved husband Richard died and in two weeks time I will be moving back to Portsmouth in the UK and to our family home. The home which we left almost six years ago when cancer was not on the agenda and being a widow in my 40’s was unimaginable.
Grieving and leaving and loving this precious place where we were so happy and where Richard died is impossibly hard to do. I often notice that I do not actually know how to leave. Of course all the practical bits are in hand (I am still Emma the magnificent organiser!) But the actual leaving….knowing that a part of me will get left behind here no matter what I do, this is not an easy thing to know. And none the less it is time to go and reconnect with my home in Portsmouth and all we left behind.
This week my dear friends Jason and Gayano have come from the UK to walk along side me as I weave my gratitude and sorrow into the rocks and trees, and offer my prayers to the lake. Yesterday was an especially precious day infused with tears and wonder and sharing stories of our lives here, and of course those of Richard’s last days. Along the way we received blessings from the forest in the form of butterflies, wild raspberries and an unseen deer. Down by the lake we were held captive by an exquisite sunset and gold lipped clouds, and we topped it all off with caramel sale ice-cream and pizza in honour of my beloved. Those of you who knew him will know well that he would have approved!
Richard’s dying has taught me things that I didn’t want to learn but which I am nonetheless grateful for. I have come to understand that grief is not a cross to bear, something to get through as fast as possible so we can get on with life and I have been deeply moved by the profound teachings of people like Stephen Jenkinson and Martin Pretchel. Through them I have learnt that love and grief are skills joined at the hip and I have attempted to meet my own grieving time with something like reverence, making a place at the table for this precious other way of loving.
And so I do what I can.
Gathering friends and artefacts together for ceremony, making meaning and beauty from the rocks, ferns and twigs and offering my tears and my thanks, over and over again. I feel so tender as my eyes start to focus on another ending, this time the end of living in this beautiful country. To be able to daily gaze on the magnificence of these mountains has been a constant source of awe and joy.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
This message then, is in part to say goodbye to those of you based here in Switzerland that have spent time with me on workshops and through coaching and partly to speak to and acknowledge another ending/beginning in my life. Thank you for witnessing this.
And….to what’s coming up next….
Nothing is so final though :-)I will be around from time to time in Switzerland. I love to offer workshops on Nonviolent Communication, The Daring Way and Rising Strong and I love to be invited to share this work which I am continually inspired and moved by. Please feel free to write to me and invite me!
I am of course still coaching people who want to develop more presence and compassion, both on Skype and in person in Portsmouth. And when I am visiting Vevey I will sometimes be available for 1:1 sessions.
I will also be offering gatherings and spaces for learning and sharing in the UK and I would like to let you know about one of these now.
Returnings – 21st September – 25th September
Returnings is a 5-day residential gathering that offers a space specifically including grief. Our venue is the beautiful conservation site of Denmark Farm Trust in Ceredigion, West Wales. I will be co-hosting this space with Jason and Gayano who have been my steady companions this past year exploring the work of grief and broken-heartedness, mostly through the teachings of Stephen Jenkinson.
Although few people seem to want to get good at grief, perhaps you can sense some wisdom in making space to honour the griefs in your life. A whispered plea to bear witness to loss and heartache. Whether it’s the death of someone you love, the realisation that longed for dreams will not come to pass, a body that doesn’t work as well as it once did, the ending of a relationship or the sorrowful state of our precious planet earth, we invite you to gather with us to hone this skill and to join us in this quest.
Please click here for more information about the 5-day residential and feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss joining.
The Well of Grief
Those who will not slip beneath
the still surface on the well of grief
turning downward through its black water to the place we cannot breathe
will never know the source from which we drink, the secret water, cold and clear,
nor find in the darkness glimmering the small round coins
thrown by those who wished for something else. — David Whyte
With love, blessings and a deep bow of gratitude.