Grief Medicine


It’s 1:30 am after the community grief ritual. The song of the grief ritual is so resonnant in my body. My body is the song more than it is sleep. I feel softness, exhaustion, a tender heart in a way that gives me strength.

My body is more alive and connected after a day of grieving. I’ve been in a village space that I crave deeply in my soul. I feel close to Sobonfu Some and to my ancestors. I felt a peace I didn’t know I could feel after she left.

I’ve been to 4 grief rituals since her passing this year looking for the medicine she carried. I felt a solidness and peace in me. The altered state of the rhythm and voice held us for hours. Where does the energy come from to sing for hours? The energy to sing keeps coming. There’s a buoyancy and steadiness in it while the rise and fall of deep emotions and pain move through us. 

It’s like tapping a heart beat on the root of a tree while saying a prayer, it changes our brain to have that rhythm. I feel I’m not alone in a really deep way. That’s why I hunger for this ritual. There’s somthing so ancient in us that this ritual acknowledges. There’s an altar for ancestors, an altar for forgiveness, an altar for grief, an area for drumming, an area for resting, an area for welcoming people home who are returning from grieving… It is a “playground” of different energetic states and we deepen our intuition as we move between them as we feel called. We are in trance. It’s not a trance that moves us away from physical reality. It is a trance that brings us closer to connection with each other and to steadniess in the face of the things that hurt us the most. It’s a compelling and gentle space. 

As I heal from feeling violated I find a softness. It is not a softness that makes me small, it’s a softness that makes me bigger. It’s a groundedness of knowing my body, my space, my land, my relation to the earth and to who I come from and to my village. This deep sense of belonging and orientation allows the pain of those moments to be with me in a way that doesn’t shake me anymore.

Thank you Briony Greenhill and Carolina Grace Lorenzo for holding this space. Thank you to everyone who showed up this weekend and who has shown up to this courageous ritual over the years. Thank you Sobonfu Some for dedicating your life to bring this medicine from the Dagara Tribe to the West. I dream of having a grief ritual in the Bay Area every month. Who wants to create this with me?

Zahava Griss