Tending Grief Communally with
Sacred Witness, Song, and Ritual


In many traditional cultures throughout the world, the full and wholesome expression of grief arising from life’s inevitable sorrows and losses was often known to be most effectively released in a communal setting.  It was recognized that unexpressed grief could be toxic, leading to illness, depression, addiction, even damaging and violent behavior towards oneself or others.   It also was known that through supporting one another in holding compassionate witness and energetic presence in a sacred ritual container that welcomed the many faces and forms of grieving, a people could reweave the bonds of respectful connection and belonging that served to hold them together in interdependent, mutually flourishing community.

Laurence Cole, a song elder and ritualist from Port Townsend, Washington, has been helping groups of people rediscover the healing power of grieving communally for over ten years.  Guided and inspired by the teachings of Malidoma Some, Sobonfu Some, Angeles Arrien, Michael Meade, James Hillman, Francis Weller, Joanna Macy and many others, Laurence creates a safe, non-judgmental space for folks to rediscover their natural human capacity for healing together.  Blending song, poetry, easy grounding movement, small and large group sharing, humor, silent reflective solitude in nature, and the co-creation of a beautiful ritual setting, Laurence provides a journey through the depths and heights of our aliveness, often leading to a sense of renewal, connection and even an awakened capacity for radiant joy.


We'll be sharing as a group and in smaller clusters, singing, moving, eating together, journaling, and creating beautiful altars.  

Bring flowers, photos, and objects you’d like to add to an altar.  

Wear comfortable, loose clothing and bring a water bottle.  

This is as much an opportunity to work on your personal grief, as it is a time to practice staying in the course in support of each other.  When we all stay engaged, one person’s work can become the work of everyone. And prepares the ground for the continuous healing release of the many faces of grief, and the harvesting of medicine that follows the forthcoming phases of our time together. Such times of communion often engender surprisingly deep feelings of greater aliveness, connection and joyous renewal.

Grief Tending is preceded by a song circle also lead by Laurence Cole:
Songs of Hope and Belonging.

Songs of Hope & Belonging song circle with Laurence Cole on December 13 is optional but included in the price of this workshop.



December 13-15, 2019

Friday: 7:00pm
Songs of Hope & Belonging Song Circle, Optional

Saturday:  Start at 9:30 AM
Continues all day and through the evening

Sunday: Start at 9:30 AM
Continues all day and through late afternoon

Scholarship Rate: $254.00
Regular Rate: $363.00
Supporter Rate: $472.00

Eco-Institute Gazebo & Barn

Includes fresh, wholesome lunch & dinner on Saturday, and lunch on Sunday

Overnight Camping (included in fee for Friday & Saturday nights)

Yome (yurt+dome hybrid) unheated bunk beds with comfortable mattresses available for $20/night.
Bring your own pillow & very warm sleeping bag. Contact host@eco-institute.org for accommodations.



Part of Laurence Cole's mission is to re-acquaint people with their birthright and natural ability to make beautiful and meaningful sound together. Most of the songs he's written are short, easy to learn, chant-like songs with several layers that fit over and around each other in interesting and pleasurable rhythmic and harmonic challenges that make them fun to sing. Group singing is one of the most ancient and primal “technologies of belonging” that we humans have been using since our earliest times, possibly before speech itself. When we make joyous and passionate song together, it nourishes our souls and offers an enlivening gift back to the natural world that made us and gives us our sustenance and our very being. When such an exchange is genuinely made, and the song finds its natural ending, often there is a sweet, lively silence in which we simply stand and hold the “enchantment,” the sense of deep and genuine communion amongst each other and with the whole living world.