Connecting: Grief and Love in Community

Carol and Paul are sending this reflection on the Exploring Extraordinary Relationship workshop that took place last month.

December 7, 2021

We have invented and led many relationship workshops with Sandy and Lon. But in Los Cabos, Mexico, on November 15, relationship showed up in ways we could never have anticipated.

While having breakfast by the ocean, Sandy and Lon received a phone call with the news that their son-in-law had died in the night.

Immediately, relationship showed up as family: they knew they must be with their daughter as soon as possible. But their scheduled return flight was a week away.

Relationship showed up as friendship: we and the Bermans helped Sandy & Lon to pack, and Barry found them seats on a flight home that afternoon.

Relationship showed up as community: as they were boarding the airport shuttle, Sandy turned and saw a crowd of our workshop participants blowing them kisses, with expressions that expressed their shared shock and grief.

Relationship showed up as partnership: with Sandy and Lon safely on their way home, we – Carol and Paul – contemplated leading the remaining two days of the “Exploring Extraordinary Relationship” workshop that we had come here to lead side-by-side with Sandy & Lon.

Our participants were grieving along with Sandy & Lon and shocked by the death of Grant Smith, younger than many of us, who had appeared to be in the best of health. Yet, absorbing such a shock revealed the character of this community. As a community, we began taking care of one another: where a couple had questions about the resort, other couples stepped in to resolve the issues – including making sure that everyone was scheduled for the COVID tests they would need before returning to the US. Were there missing supplies in our meeting room? A participant said simply, “I will handle all that.”

How were we going to arrange the dinner for almost 40 people concluding our week together – the kind of logistics that Lon always handles with enthusiasm and grace? A team of participants took it on, so that we, the remaining leaders, could concentrate completely on the next two days of a workshop that had taken a completely unexpected turn.

These “Exploring” workshops always take a deeper look at some aspect of relationship. None of us could have predicted how deeply our community would experience shared grief, caring for one another, and a community stepping up to do whatever is needed.

We know we will always remember and honor that week – the sadness, the love … and the palpable presence of our absent friends.

Carol and Paul

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