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book reviews - Category Archive

Sep 03
Friday

The Wild Edge of Sorrow

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By Francis Weller

Reviewed by Sara Demetry

The work of the mature person is to carry grief in one hand and gratitude in the other and to be stretched large by them. 

Francis Weller, www.thesunmagazine.org/issues/478/the-geography-of-sorrow

Grief around the loss of my mother at age 28 is what turned my mind toward Buddhism and the dharma. It shattered me, and for many years the grief manifested in my body. Years later, I had a dream about my mother, which felt like a visitation, and it freed me to relate to her in a new way, as a guide and part of a larger consciousness. More recently, I began to understand that what I was feeling about the events in the external world – the evidence of a changing climate, species and biodiversity loss – was grief.  It was with this growing awareness and distress about our planet, that I happily discovered The Wild Edge of Sorrow. 

Weller sets the tone of his book with a quote from Kathleen Dean Moore: 

Sorrow is part of the earth’s great cycles, flowing into the night like cool air sinking down a river course. To feel sorrow is to float on the pulse of the earth, the surge from living to dying, from coming into being to ceasing to exist.

The Wild Edge of Sorrow explores how we learn to carry our grief and not collapse or turn away in denial.  It helps us see grief as vital and necessary, and not something only to be endured.  Weller sets out to engage the reader in a transformative process right from the start. He challenges us to shift our outlook on grief from a period of mourning to an “apprenticeship,” something we relate to throughout our daily life. He views grief as an “initiation” through which we may be transformed.

In contrast to the conventional understanding of grief as something we must “go through,” Weller emphasizes the importance of fully experiencing and navigating grief.  While grief can feel isolating and overwhelming, he reminds us that grieving requires a communal container to facilitate healing, allowing us to witness, feel, and release the grief.  As a teenager Weller experienced the death of his father, which eventually led to his work as a therapist and facilitator working with groups around grief. His own opening to grief, after years of hardening and suppressing it, is what informs his faith in grief as a transformative process. Although Weller uses language that is based in Christianity, such as “soul” and “God,” his perspective is applicable to all of us.  Continue…

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