by Chris Camarata
I’ve been facilitating a healing circle on death and dying for more than a year with Nicolas and Robin. Nicolas had been studying these often-avoided topics and wanted a forum where people could talk openly about their feelings surrounding these experiences, so he suggested a healing circle on death and dying. Robin and I volunteered to help facilitate. For the past year, I have found that, as we are able to speak openly about death and dying, we express our feelings about how we wish to live our lives more fully.
I’m retired from my work as a physician and, for the last 20 years, I cared for patients and families in hospice and palliative medicine. I discovered that maybe the most important care I could provide was to just listen in silence and enable my heart to hear their stories. This is understood on an elemental basis in healing circles.
I’ve attended many healing circles in the last two years, and they are a unique experience that I haven’t found anywhere else in my life. I was looking for a place of refuge to rest and heal from all the pain I continue to experience from loss; my own, the loss I witness directly by others, or all the loss throughout the world from the ongoing polycrises that are harming so many.
What I found was more. I found a sanctuary. Not only are the circles deeply healing for me, where I can safely mourn as I access my grief, they’re a conduit to what is sacred for me, the truth in my heart, and the truths shared by others. It is a simple ritual. I sit in the community of others in silence and deeply listen without judgment. I’m not there to fix but to trust in the healing powers innate in all of us, who are cherished as we speak our hearts. I listen, then I share and receive that same gift of being listened to by others. It is the place where we find the courage to tell our untold stories.
Circles are a port in the storm where we all find an eloquent language for our hidden authenticity that guides us to healing. Whether it’s processing our grief or enhancing our perception of beauty, we are all heard, we are all accepted, and I am very grateful for what I’ve received.