Grief and Loss

Listening to Grief

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

Grief is an uncompromising teacher, but it can take you to depths within yourself and teach you things nothing else can. It is only when we sit down with grief and receive what it has to offer us that healing can begin.

One of the greatest teachings grief has to show us is that the world is not what we thought. This is important because we all have misconceptions about the nature of reality and about our agency in the world. It is common to become deluded about what is real and what is not real. Often people think they can avoid or control pain in an effort to generate a reality where it does not exist. In this way, delusion is the basis for suffering. It takes strong medicine to break through delusion, and grief offers this medicine by providing the opportunity to unravel our misconceptions about the nature of reality.

Podcast: Episode 50: Christina Rasmussen

Description: On this episode, Laura speaks with Christina Rasmussen, acclaimed grief educator, and the author of Second Firsts and Where Did You Go? She is the founder of The Life Reentry Institute and has helped countless people break out of what she has coined the “waiting room” of grief to rebuild their lives through her Life Reentry Model. She describes grief as a catalyst for redefining identity and introduces a new model of grief based on the science of neuroplasticity. Her institute’s mission is to bring forth a new way of speaking about and embracing loss within the medical, corporate, and social environments. Her work has been featured on ABC News, Washington Post, Maria Shriver, and the White House Blog.

Finding Your Spiritual Path Part 2: Forgiveness, Blame, and Shame

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

My previous post began to address the spiritual crisis that many people experience when a spiritual or religious leader has harmed people and broken their trust. Those who don’t abandon their spiritual paths entirely are faced with the challenge of trying to incorporate the experience of betrayal into the way that they hold their faith or their trust. One challenge people face in this situation is that the spiritual authorities that harmed others are not always willing to take responsibility for their actions. They feel they cannot move on until the issue is resolved through those who have generated the betrayal taking responsibility and asking for forgiveness. Fortunately, even when spiritual authorities refuse to take responsibility, it is possible for the spiritual seeker to engage in an internal process of forgiveness.

Finding Your Spiritual Path Part 1: Understanding Betrayal

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

Since the movie Spotlight came out in 2015, more and more people have come to our classes at the Sacred Stream looking for a different path to spiritual understanding. Spotlight is about the efforts of a group of journalists from The Boston Globe who were directed by their editor, Marty Baron, to investigate accusations against John Geoghan, a Catholic priest who had been accused of molesting young boys in different parishes during his long tenure as a spiritual leader in the Catholic community. The movie focused not only on these distressing events but also on the way the Roman Catholic Church tried to keep the truth of these events from the public. The investigation revealed a massive cover-up at the highest levels of the Church of the effect of Geoghan’s actions, and pointed to similar occurrences and cover-ups over the course of many years by the Church.

Because Sacred Stream has long been known for its non-dogmatic, inclusive approach to the world of spirit, it has been a safe place for people to explore their difficulty in incorporating these events within the context of their faith.

Thinking About Grief

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

When I first read On Death and Dying by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in the early seventies, I was thrilled that someone was actually talking about death. I had just moved to the United States, after having spent most of my early years in other countries. As I was trying to orient myself to the American culture, I had become acutely aware of the way no one around me really wanted to talk about things that I thought were pretty important – death, for example. I had resigned myself to watching television just so I would have something to talk about with the other teenagers at school, but it was not really that interesting to me.

Buddhist Perspectives on Grief and Loss

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

In Robert Thurman’s prelude to his translation of Bardo Thodol, commonly translated as The Tibetan Book of the Dead, he takes to task scientific materialists’ perspective that death is a terminal state, a state of nothingness where life is destroyed. He points out that these materialists “have never observed even one material thing become nothing. Why should the energy reality of a state of awareness [life] ……be the exception to the law of physics that energy is conserved and only transformed?”

I have always appreciated Dr. Thurman’s willingness to take on monolithic prejudices, in the name of science, in response to spiritual questions. I have always felt the wholesale rejection of notions such as the possibility of life after death and the existence of spirit was highly unscientific. In order to step into the universe of life beyond death from the Buddhist perspective, we have to allow ourselves to be disabused of the ways in which we may have unwittingly digested the viewpoints of scientific materialism on these subjects simply because they dominate in our education system.

Reflections on Loss at the Winter Solstice

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

We are gathered here this evening of the winter solstice. This is the longest night of the year, and it is honored by many traditions as a sacred and rich time. In Latin, solstice means sun set still and winter solstice is the great stillness before the sun’s strength builds, and days grow longer. It is a time when everything lies dormant in the silent night. At this time of year, the earth reaches into the darkness of the winter night and our experience is driven by that darkness. The days are shorter and shorter as the nights invite us to focus more deeply inward, to reach more and more fully into the deepest recesses of our psyche.

Perspectives on Grief and Loss

In today’s episode, Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D. discusses some common ways people relate to grief and to loss and some of the effects of these ways of relating. She also discusses the relationship between grief and loss.

Death, Acceptance, and Grace

By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.

When a loved one is dying or has died, our defenses to all of the complicated aspects of our relationship with that person are often shaken. If we are lucky, we are less able to keep in place all the unconscious agreements with that person and we are afforded a time to explore those agreements and how they affect our ability to be honest with ourselves. To deepen this process, it is often helpful to use hypnosis and its ability to further weaken the conscious defenses we have to death in order to more fully understand ourselves.

This part of the grieving process, this deeper exploration of the meaning of how death highlights these hidden places in our relationships, is often masked by the homilies of organized religion, the need to save face in front of family members, and the urging by well-meaning friends to just get on with our lives. Even if we find we are able to explore these places, we rarely have the luxury of doing so with the person who is dying.

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