Editor’s Note: War and unrest in Israel and Gaza has most of the world experiencing collective and universal grief. We are in fact, in the midst of a grief pandemic. Where do we go to explore these feelings and emotions? We thought The Memory Circle might be one such place. – Grace
Barri Leiner Grant is the self-proclaimed, Chief Grief Officer™ and founder of The Memory Circle. Grant left her career as a publicist and reporter to pursue full-time work as a Certified Grief Coach and educator. Grant has studied with the leading names in the grief space, including certification with Claire Bidwell Smith, Hope Edelman and David Kessler. She combines her writing background and yoga/meditation training to craft a one-of-its-kind way forward. She believes with her grief-tending techniques, we can better honor death and non-death loss.
Grant explains that she started ‘The Memory Circle’ as a place and space where you could gather–whether it’s been a day or a decade that you’ve experienced loss of any incarnation. She believes that “by sitting shoulder to shoulder with others who have experienced loss you create a wisdom exchange. A little bit of your story could help someone else, and their words, help your healing journey”.
While not a therapist, she has developed grief informed services she calls ‘grief tending’. “Just like you would weed or water a garden, we need a regular practice and tool kit to process loss,” she said.
As the holidays approach, Grant emphasizes how important it is to reframe the holidays in a way that feels right for us. “Writing your lost loved one (or ones) a letter around the holidays can be a beautiful tradition. It creates a continuing bond. A lot of my work is based on writing and processing through writing.”
“The holidays can bring up a lot of feelings of missing loved ones, or if we have ever experienced, let’s say a job loss, we may have less funding around the holidays for the kind of gifts that we used to give. If we’ve experienced a friendship loss, we may be feeling that over the holidays. Death and non-death losses alike can spike grief during celebratory times.”
“Be with what feels good to you,” states Grant, “which may mean that the day is not about gathering as you used to. Maybe the day can be about creating a new tradition. Think about reframing events in a way that feels like it will be comfortable for you. Sometimes that means saying yes or no to being included in somebody else’s celebration. Sometimes that means if your loved one was the place where you always went for that celebration, maybe it means making it your own home. Perhaps, you will volunteer somewhere and donate your time.”
Grant recently hosted a National Grief Awareness Day in Bedford Hills as an opportunity to explore ways in which we could come together as a community. Angie Cartwright started this day in honor of a loved one that she lost. As a new resident of this area, Grant worked with the Bedford Town Supervisor Ellen Calves to launch the day “to meet our neighbors, help understand their grief, and to help foste support and a feeling of connection.”
Grant notes that it can be very challenging to combine grieving and working. “Overall grief and grieving need a better place to live in modern-day society and especially in the workplace. She suggests inquiring about your company’s bereavement leave policy.
“I believe that everybody deserves to be seen, heard and witnessed in grief–along with paid bereavement leave,” said Grant. “If your company doesn’t have a policy, consider being part of a compassionate leadership effort in creating one.”
Whether at work or at home, introducing and extending compassion for those grieving “is a real gift we can give one another.” For more about Grant and The Memory Circle, visit thememorycircle.com