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  • Writer's pictureBarb Bickford

What can you learn from loss?

A songwriter friend of mine says “the personal is the most universal”. In that spirit, I begin this post by saying what I’m about to share is very personal.

The other day was my son’s birthday. It was a bittersweet day for me because Matt is no longer with us. He died in a car accident when he was 18 years old.

Matt was my first born. He was bright, creative, active and engaging. And at times, he was annoying. He was not all that interested in the future, whereas I was more focused on helping him eat his vegetables, get to school on time, go to college, get a job, etc.

I was so focused on my own agenda for Matt that I missed his essential gift: he accepted people exactly as they were and played with them there. He could set aside his agenda when play was no longer possible. For example, as a teen, when he knew I’d reached the end of my rope with his antics, he would say, “Mom, sit down. Let me get you some tea.”

I learned at Matt’s funeral how deeply his gift of presence endeared him to others. Many of his peers whispered in my ear, “Matt was my best friend.”

OK, so what does this have to do with group work? Well, to be candid, I have been known to focus on agendas and overlook relationships in groups. While agendas are fine and even necessary tools, I've learned the hard way that they can be derailed if relationships are strained. Everyone loses when I keep pushing.

Recently, I’ve been reminded of this lesson in another way, through intuitive art I have done with my friend Linda Burandt. Here is one example:

Two versions of an intuitive art painting.
in intuitive art, the first layer (left) evolves during the second layer (right).

The first layer (left) is busy, like my daily life. The second layer (right) reminded me that under all the outer busy-ness, my inner life is flowing with creative ideas, music and insight. It reminded me to focus more flow and less on tasks.

Because Linda and I have both faced significant life transitions, we have decided to collaborate to help others navigate change. Our first workshop on “Transitions and New Beginnings” was meaningful to both the participants and to us. Through intuitive painting, writing and talking, the participants were able to see more clearly what their transitions are teaching them, and we, the facilitators, felt encouraged to offer more workshops like this.

Our next workshop, on September 14th, is about “Loss & Letting Go.” Let me invite you to set aside your agenda for that day and attend to your relationship with yourself with courage and grace. Join us as we explore loss and what your inner self is trying to tell you, so you can let go and move on.

To learn more about upcoming workshops, go to the Events page.

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