Navigating the Wilderness of Loss: Reframing The Spiritual Journey of Grief
By Elizabeth Siegel Cohen, LCSW, FT, Manager of Illness, Loss and Spiritual Support at JCFS Chicago
The illness, loss and spiritual support at JCFS Chicago and The Lauri S. Bauer Foundation For Sudden Loss presented the 6th Annual Conference on Help, Healing and Hope After Loss on May 15, 2018. More than 150 individuals, families, mental health practitioners and clergy attended to hear featured speaker Rabbi Anne Brener, LCSW discuss "Navigating the Wilderness of Loss: Reframing the Spiritual Journey of Grief," as well as to gain support from each other and learn ways to better navigate the mourning process.
Serious illness and loss often force us to confront big questions such as, “Why did this illness happen to me?” or “Why did my loved one have to die so suddenly?” These questions can threaten our spiritual beliefs about ourselves and our world. In her presentation, Rabbi Brener incorporated text, meditation and expressive healing techniques to provide insights into these big questions. Using the Sukkah (a temporary dwelling place) as her framework, she offered five Mekamot (holy places) along the way where mourners can stop in their journeys and "move from the chaos of the wilderness of grief to a literal ‘coming to terms’ with loss as [they] both find their voice and the language to describe their unique experiences of their mourning.”
As a spiritual leader, psychotherapist and author, Rabbi Brener helps individuals facing serious illness and loss as well as supports faith leaders in establishing healing communities across the world. The 25th anniversary edition of Rabbi Brener's pivotal book, Mourning and Mitzvah: A Guided Journal for Walking the Mourner's Path Through Grief to Healing, crystalizes her thoughts on what brings comfort to those in spiritual pain: "I build upon the affirmation given to mourners on the Temple's path, expressing hope that they will find Ha Makom Y'nechem, the place of comfort."
UPDATE: Video from the 5/15/18 event
Illness, loss and spiritual support, a program of JCFS Chicago, in collaboration with CJE SeniorLife and the Chicago Board of Rabbis, provides a wide array of programs and services that embrace the comfort of human connection and the spiritual support of Jewish tradition.
The mission of the Lauri S. Bauer Foundation For Sudden Loss is to give HELP, HEALING and HOPE to families that have suffered a sudden loss or crisis.