Good Grief!

What is “good” grief as opposed to “bad” grief? Maybe this isn’t what Lucy was expressing over and over to Charlie Brown during her frustrations with him. But it’s the topic of this post, mostly inspired by a collaboration with some organizational and societal change artists that play in multiple fields.

The Grieving and Thriving series of events began in 2022 inspired by a session held at the Open Space Institute-U.S.’s annual Opening Space for Peace and High Performance event held online in January of that year. A session during that event inspired Annick Corriveau, a courageous and lovely spirited French Canadian facilitator to lead the charge to inquire about grieving and how necessary it is for true thriving.

The event drew strength from an event back in 2010 in Berlin, where approaching 300 Open Space Technology (OST) facilitators from around the world convened for three days with 72 sessions. The event was called the annual World Open Space on Open Space (WOSonOS). One of those sessions was titled “What is it that has to die in order to truly live?”

I was not at that session. But I was in Berlin for the three day open space event. I spent time with one of those present, a bright enthusiastic gentleman from Iceland, Kári Gunnarsson. He braved the flight disruptions caused by the 2010 eruptions of one of the Iceland volcanoes in order to attend the Berlin WOSonOS. He presented me with his own version of the session’s question.

What in me needs to die in order to take the more beautiful path?

Although the question planted a seed, I’m not sure I had any answers. But the question kept echoing in my mind. It attracted me to Charles Eisenstein’s book, A More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible. While looking into the heart of the difficulties, Eisenstein in his inspiring book has us die to the pain of separation and embrace a better story that our heart knows is available to us.

Despite the beauty of the question and the book, it’s been hard to let go of so many hopes and aspirations. But this global panic and lock-down has opened many doors by shutting others very firmly. Grief seems the appropriate emotion and process as we mourn those shut doors. Without the Good Grief, it’s really hard to notice the new doors opening. How do we grieve well? Are we grieving what needs grieving?

The year long collaboration has yielded two Open Space events, a Lean Coffee™, and meetings nearly every week for an evolving set of organizers. Although I could write a great deal more about my own journey of grieving in order to thrive, what has brought the greatest sense of growth was being authentically real and present with those who have continued to convene about this topic nearly every week for over a year. We hold our fourth event on March 25, 2023. “Science and the Arts – Together at the Edges: How are we moving forward?” Perhaps you’ll join this event, or ones to come. The greatest rewards are from the full journey, and not just the destination.