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I met Nancy London at a writing retreat called Writing As A Passageway Through Grief, Uncertainty And Change last year. She was so wise, loving and nurturing in that space and with me individually that I knew I wanted to talk to her as part of this podcast series.
Nancy, like Jamie in Episode 2, has worked as a hospice social worker and also in private practice. She is a writer, and was co-author of the first edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves (such an important book in my adolescence!) and later a resource book for older moms called Hot Flashes Warm Bottles: First-Time Mothers Over Forty. She is also a teacher, having led women’s and mom’s groups and is now starting a series of classes for women in Santa Fe about embracing the shadow – hear more about that in the interview.
Nancy’s story includes losing her father at a young age, and then, years later, having to face the fact that she had not fully grieved the loss and could not continue the work she wanted to do, supporting others in grief, until she worked through her own. In setting about doing that, and spending time with the dying and their loved ones, she has come to a gentle and loving relationship with grief.
That perspective, that we can sit with grief in love, was one piece of wisdom took away from this conversation. We do not need to fear our grief. It will always wait for us, until we are ready to be present with it. As Nancy says, “We don’t ‘get over’ our grief. It is an energy, not an enemy.”
The other is this: To be able to be with someone deep in grief, you have to be able to be in touch with your own pain. Until we feel safe with our own dark and hurting places, we cannot fully support others when they are in pain. But when we face our grief, know our tender places, we become better partners, better parents, better friends, and better citizens in a world that is filled with a great deal of pain.
Listen to Episode 4 with Nancy London now by clicking the little arrow in the play bar below, or head over to iTunes or your favorite podcast player. What did you learn from this episode? Send me a note and let me know!
Links to the things we talked about in this episode:
- Writing As A Passageway Through Grief, Uncertainty And Change, a writing workshop co-led by Nancy and Laura Davis.
- Nancy’s book, Hot Flashes Warm Bottles: First-Time Mothers Over Forty.
- Contact Nancy through her website to learn more about her Santa Fe classes about embracing the shadow.
- Writing prompts:
- What does grief want to tell me?
- Write a letter from your grief.
- What do I need? (write with your non-dominant hand)
Be prepared for the hard conversations.
You want to protect your kids from the hard stuff, but sometimes you can't. When you can't shield them from the impact of illness, death or grief, the best thing you can do is help them to understand and process their emotions. But know you don't have do go into these hard conversations alone.
Download a resource list with 24 books for kids on grief, death, or when a parent has a serious illness.
These stories can help guide you through helping your child, and yourself, through these tender places.