My experience of circle comes from our Healing Grief Circle and fuels the work of growing and spreading circles as much as possible. It was our first gathering, and attending were two bereaved mothers, both of whom had experienced the loss of their young adult child by suicide.
Ironically, the two women were also neighbors, living in the same cul-de-sac and sharing friendship with another neighbor, who has also had much loss of family members recently. It was this neighbor who reached out to these two moms and brought them to this first circle.
Despite their geographic proximity, both mothers spoke immediately of their sense of isolation and having no one to talk to about their pain. Both became engaged in conversation and sharing immediately. Both stated over and over their appreciation for the opportunity to be in among people who “get it” and “can stand to listen to their pain.” Both stories are complicated and involve the inability to gain support from their families. By the end of the short evening together, the group had tightly bonded and talked excitedly of coming together again, especially during this holiday period. As the “host” of this first gathering, I really had to do or say very little. The yearning to connect, to be heard, and to have their story and pain held, was the energy that moved the group though the circle time. This what healing circles are all about—touching and being touched by another’s story and presence in the circle. What a profound privilege it is to be in and hold the rim of this now-sacred circle.
Header photo by Corrine Bayley