Hosting (This Grief Thing in Nottingham)

 

I hold you.

I am holding you.  

I am holding a space open here, for you.

I am holding a space open here for you and for your grief.

I am holding open this space for you to talk if you want to or to just be here quietly if you want to, but this space I’m holding open here is for you and for your grief.

I am trying to be a good host.  I am trying to be hospitable.  This is what friendship looks like.  This is what love looks like, this space, held open here and ready to be filled, ready for your grief to spill out.   Not even a flood would be unwelcome here.  

So we’re waiting.  We’re sitting in a café, in a pub, in the library, we’re sitting on the bus, in a school, we’re in the staff canteen, we’re sitting here in this small circle we’ve made together and into which we’re pouring all our grief.  We’re eating.  We’re drinking tea.  We’re drinking wine.  Sorrel.  Ginger.  We’ve gathered here to talk and to listen, to hold and to hold open these spaces for whatever needs to pour in, to pour in.

Is it mine, this grief?  Does it belong to me?  How do you feel if I tell you I want to share it with you?  Is it ours?  Will you carry some of the load, bear some of the weight for me, wait for me while I return from this new place I’ve gone travelling in, dragging this new reality behind me?  I’m tired.  Hold this for a while for me, please, will you please?

I am trying to be a good host.

I am trying to be hospitable.

I hold you.

I am holding you.  

Pass me that weight and let me carry it for you, or pass it here around this circle, let’s share the load.  

We’re in Nottingham.  We’re talking about friendships and hospitality.  We’re amongst friends here.  Our temporary neighbours from adjacent shops call in to meet us.  They lend us cups and coffee and plants.  They talk and listen, as we listen and talk.  We’re welcomed here while we’re here to welcome grief here.  Trying to be good hosts, to be hospitable, we feel new bonds forming.  We go out from the shop, to a café, the pub, to the council staff canteen, to a school; we’re welcomed in all these places, welcome to come and hold open a space for grief.  We interconnect.  We share the load.  We carry the weight.  


We are trying to be good hosts.  We are trying to be hospitable.

(Hospitality.  Hospital.  BUT GRIEF IS NOT AN ILLNESS)

Grief belongs in the social sphere.  Grief lives in communities, in families.  It’s social and interpersonal; it makes relationships and it lives in relationships.  It’s public; it should be public, it should be shared.  We could dance it together.  But we hide it and keep it secret and dry our cheeks and blink to squeeze the redness from our eyes and breathe deep breaths to calm the heaving spasms in our bodies as it washes over us and we put on a brave face and we put up and stride out ‘bravely’ into the world without a word of what’s welling up inside us; because it’s all private, that stuff, that messy grief stuff, it’s all private and no-one wants to see that spilling out onto the street, the bus, the café, the staff canteen; nobody wants that in schools with the children looking on horrified and the teachers embarrassed and awkward; no-one wants that on the table while they’re eating, heaved up and staining the tablecloth (I mean I’m trying to eat my dinner here, please, you’re ruining my meal), no-one wants to have to talk about that, about death, about this devastating loss; about the raw-faced heartbroken short-breathed thwumping aching horrible messy pain of it all.  


But we do. 

Pour the tea. Pass the wine.



We are trying to be good hosts. 

We are trying to be hospitable.  

We are holding open a space. 

We are holding open a space for grief. 


We sit in a small circle, holding open a space for each other, creating a deep well for it all to be poured into.  We listen and talk and talk and listen and walk out into the world again, swapping numbers, asking ‘do you think we could meet again, to talk again, maybe soon sometime?’  Yes.  Yes, we can meet again, in the pub next time, or the café or the staff canteen, maybe on the bus on the way to school. 


I hold you.


I am holding you.  


I am holding a space open here, for you.


I am holding a space open here for you and for your grief.

I am holding open this space for you to talk if you want to or to just be here quietly if you want to, but this space I’m holding open here is for you and for your grief.

I am trying to be a good host.  I am trying to be hospitable.  This is what friendship looks like.  This is what love looks like, this space, held open here and ready to be filled, ready for your grief to spill out.  

Not even a flood would be unwelcome here.

 
David Harradine