When the pandemic hit, Anne Murphy, a passionate end-of-life educator and a family-directed aftercare provider, saw not just the loss and pain of COVID, but the chaos in the world. “People were upset about so many things — racial injustice, tension in cities, climate change. I saw a lot of worry and a lot of grief.”
Murphy began to explore what it might look like to serve the community by coming together and allowing grief to be present. “With everyone stuck at home, I put a couple offerings online about embodying grief through song, silence, art and more.”
During these groups, Murphy shared some misconceptions about what grief is. “Grief needs to be seen and to be released,” she explains, adding, “grief is learned. One of the big pieces I talk about is that grief gets passed down and modeled by families, communities and cultures. People need to take a moment to sit and consider what and who modeled grief to them. Was it repressed or expressed? Understanding this helps people see that there may be healthier ways to express grief. Coming together gives people permission to express grief, especially if you’ve been taught that expressing it is not okay.”
Lakewood’s historic Memorial Chapel: The Ideal Setting for Healing
“Of all the programs I’d offered online, it was grief though song that really resonated,” says Murphy. After COVID, when events could be held in-person again, Murphy reached out to Amanda Luke, Lakewood’s Community Programs Manager. Luke was pleased to offer the historic Memorial Chapel for the event which aligns with Lakewood’s vision to reimagine the role of a cemetery in modern life.
“The Chapel,” Murphy says, “is one of the most beautiful places to hear and to sing in community. It’s just a really wonderful space for grief to be present.”
Murphy’s friend and colleague, Sarina Partridge, joined her. “Our partnership is symbiotic,” Murphy says. “Sarina brings in the song. She’s a local song catcher and singer and I bring in the pieces around grief.”
Connecting and Healing Together
Embodying Grief Through Song, now in its third year at Lakewood, has proven to be a beautiful way for people to participate in communities with their grief. Throughout the event, guests sing along to simple, repetitive songs that help center and ground them. Between songs, the gathering weaves in and out of introducing personal reflection and dyads where two people connect. Additionally, everyone is invited to write the name of something or someone that they’re actively grieving — a loved one, a pet, emotions. The group doesn’t read anything out loud; instead, it’s the act of writing, focusing and offering grief that is cathartic.
“We know grief affects everybody,” Murphy says. “People who have lost partners and loved ones, beloved animals, or even relationships — going through a divorce often brings on grief. That’s why we include animals, emotions and all kinds of relationships, because often we don’t allow ourselves grace about the things in our life that cause us pain, or we try to downplay our losses.”
The Embodying Grief Through Song event is just one of Lakewood’s many Grief and Remembrance programs. Please make your reservation to join us on Monday, October 30 from 5 – 6:30 PM, for our next Embodying Grief Through Song event.