Throughout this new year, we’re releasing a series of posts that share Our Values statement (see detailed statement below), along with using small portions of that full statement to ask you all some questions about your own practice in the grief support field. To launch this, we’re excited to share the graphic introducing this post.
While we’ve included provocation to discuss social identity, context, and social justice in conversations with people about their personal and professional experiences of loss, trauma, and grief for some years now, we’ve really been re-working our course materials to include much more explicit, direct, and clear discussion about these topics.
We are so grateful to have had some time in 2018 to work on this with Ericka Hines from Every Level Leadership and Diversity is an Asset. In that work, we’ve realized that these strong and core values, embedded in our course content and in the way that we work together as a learning community, were not reflected on our website! So we’re starting the process of remedying that now and will carry throughout this new year to host more conversations around these values with all of you over on our business Facebook page.
If you, too, are a practitioner who practices allying, but finds that core value is not being shared as clearly as you’d like through your work, we whole-heARTedly encourage you to do some work with Ericka!
Our Vision for Belonging, Agency, and Hope for All, in all of our Living, Grieving, and Dying Experiences
At the core of our Creative Grief Studio mission is a deep value for the significance of life. We want to create a world where, in the face of great loss and grief, we appreciate and care for the uniqueness, preciousness, and significance of all grief and life experiences.
All grief and life experiences are worthy, but this is not yet the way our world treats everyone. For this reason, we are committed to standing with lives that are often not treated as worthy, including people of color, queer, trans, people with disabilities or chronic illnesses, female, elderly, and young lives, and people who are discriminated against because of their religious beliefs.
We find it problematic that the current world of grief support is dominated by White, Western, relatively wealthy, Christian, female, heterosexual perspectives. We want to see more diverse representation in grief support practitioners and approaches. We take a strong stand against ideas and systems that treat some groups of people as “other” and “less worthy,” including White supremacy, heteronormativity, patriarchy, expert culture, and capitalism.
All losses are valid, but our society constructs certain kinds of losses as worthy of validation and support, while ignoring, down-playing, silencing, or stigmatising other kinds of losses that so many people grieve deeply for. We wish and work for a world where the wide range of unique and different losses is fully appreciated, and all people impacted by any kind of loss can enjoy a sense of belonging in grief support services, rituals, and gatherings.
Grief is not a pathology, but grieving people are still often treated as if they’re ill or broken. We promote the kind of grief support that centers the client’s experience, needs, and resilience, instead of pathologizing grief responses, trying to fit clients’ unique stories into universal theoretical models of grief, or prescribing what “healthy” grieving should look like.
Grieving people don’t need grief experts, and yet our cultural ideas of “professionalism” still promote hierarchical relationships that give greater weight to professional voices and theoretical models than clients’ experiences and views. We’re doing it differently. We’re training creative, flexible, humble, and respectful grief support professionals who understand and love the fact that practitioner and client can have conversations together as equals. Conversations that change both the client and the practitioner. Conversations that hold theories loosely and centralise the client’s experiences, voice, and choices. Brave conversations that ask both client and practitioner to reflect on their biases and prejudices. Conversations that support clients to craft their own preferred way of living with or after great loss.
Grieving and making meaning after loss is something we do together. And yet in our modern Western culture and the professional culture of psychology, grief is often treated as an individual, intrapsychic, private, and context-neutral experience. We’re passionate about relational conversations and creative activities that acknowledge and work with the social and contextual nature of meaning-making, grow a sense of belonging and connectedness, and seek to change unjust realities.