ACT 2021 Featured Capstone:
As We Carry On: Using Words to Explore Our Grief
Writer and Facilitator – Fort Collins, Colorado, USA
Who did your Capstone Project serve ?
I created a writing workshop for individuals who identify as bereaved, as experiencing grief, or as having a loss story. I never turned anyone away, and people could define what grief meant to them.
What was the suffering that your project addressed?
After experiencing loss, we’re told to master five steps, move through milestones, and muscle through to the other side. What if we don’t have to arrive buttoned up and whole? I designed this writing workshop to help individuals explore how self-compassion can help us live more fully after loss.
How did this project address that suffering?
My intent was to create a space where people could explore their suffering with compassion, grace, and community. The workshop is designed with three movements — each was paired with a reading from a grief author, prompts for free writing, a compassion mantra and time for sharing.
Who was your audience and how many people participated?
Over 90 participants from around the world joined my virtual workshops. While I hosted two workshops of my own, I also partnered with Feely Humans, Northern Colorado Writers, and Creative Mornings to deliver the workshop to their audiences.
How was the project delivered (the format)?
The 90-minute workshops were delivered online via Zoom. Participantas embarked on exercises of free-writing, list-making, and the creation of poetry to explore new ways to honor pain, healing, and themselves as they carry on. After the workshops, participants could submit their writing to be included in a gallery of public submissions on my website and shared on social media.
What was the reported impact on or feedback from participants? On yourself?
This experience boosted my confidence in my professional skills and it ignited in me a passion for holding space for those who are hurting. I was able to listen with boundaries and turn towards compassion, rather than empathic distress. On participant shared: “Grief and loss are universal, but holding space for our grief and that of those around us is an active choice of healing - of grounding ourselves and releasing ourselves.”
How has the ACT Program helped you become an Ambassador of Compassion?
This truly was an experience in meaning-making out of my own loss experience. Working with participants jolted me out of my own narrative and helped me to realize how much growth has transpired in me since then. I want to be more gentle in the world, and this has lit a spark in me that this type of work is possible.
What advice would you give to someone who's considering participating in the ACT Program?
This program will equip you to be in the world with gentleness and kindness. As we embark on change and challenge as humans, you’ll learn how to recognize suffering, witness pain, and transform others with profound impact. We need your ideas and heart to continue this work. You will not be disappointed.