By Alec Clayton
Local nonprofit Wild Grief invites the community to gather around a virtual campfire on the evening of Saturday, Nov. 13 at 6:30 p.m. Wild Grief uses peer support and the healing power of nature to help people work through the feeling their grief is too heavy to endure.
“By offering free, outdoor experiences for teens, young adults, families and all-ages groups,“ says program coordinator Monica Anney, “we help more people find a place where they can remember, process and discover a path to healing.“
Wild Grief invites people to commune during the hour-long virtual campfire and to be in community with others who welcome and honor grief, acknowledge the land we’re on, explore how we’re held by nature through difficult times, to learn how to be part of Wild Grief’s work. There’s an optional “Grief Share” beginning at 7:30 p.m.
Wild Grief programs directly support people who are navigating the rocky terrain of grief after the death of a loved one. Its mission is to facilitate peer groups for teens, young adults and families grieving a death by creating space for sharing, connection and healing outdoors. “We do this because we believe in the healing power of nature, the importance of community and the need to acknowledge the impact of death on our lives,” Anney says. “Our vision is a vital, resilient and connected community with a healthy response to death.”
A new study from the National Institute of Health indicates more than 140,000 U.S. children have lost a primary or secondary caregiver to COVID. With so many in our communities facing death and loss during unsettling times, Wild Grief’s work is more important than ever. Program participants report feeling overwhelmed as they rebuild their lives without the person who died. Youths who are grieving, teens in particular, often resist asking for help. Wild Grief’s emphasis on outdoor experiences opens doors to people who may be hesitant to find grief support elsewhere.
Here’s what two anonymous participants had to say:
“Wild Grief gave me an opportunity to let my pain be seen … by others, my child, and by the forest. I had a wonderful experience connecting with others who have experienced loss, and I couldn’t imagine a better way to make space for my grief than out in nature.”
“Grief is a journey that changes often. It’s a wild path that requires hard work, reveals new views and undulates between joy and sorrow, much like hiking in nature. The hike habit provides a safe, nurturing environment to share and explore our grief with ourselves and others. The facilitators provide the stability of structure and ritual to support our individual growth with great compassion. The group format demonstrates that we are not alone in this journey. I cannot think of a better way to process my grief, support my fellow humans and gain an even greater respect and appreciation for the natural environment.”
The virtual campfire is set to take place during the annual Give Local fundraising campaign hosted by the Community Foundation of South Puget Sound. Wild Grief’s goal is to raise $15,000 during Give Local to support developing and launching a new Family Journey Camp-Out for grieving families in need.
Wild Grief virtual campfire
6:30 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 13