Companioning the Bereaved:
A Note from Dr. Wolfelt
If you are thinking of attending a 4-Day Training in Colorado, I invite you to consider the philosophy that informs my work with bereaved people as well as my teaching. I believe in “companioning” the bereaved instead of “treating” them.
I have taken liberties with the noun “companion” and made it into the verb “companioning” because it so well captures the type of counseling relationship I support. Actually, the word companion, when broken down into its original Latin roots, means com for “with” and pan for “bread.” Someone you would share a meal with. A friend. An equal.
Please be aware that not everyone is comfortable in the culture of “companioning.” I urge you to read through the information contained here very carefully. I urge you to use discernment in determining if the Center for Loss learning experiences are a good match for your fundamental learning style and philosophy of caring for your fellow human beings during times of loss and grief.
Here are my tenets of companioning the bereaved:
- Companioning is about being present to another person’s pain; it is not about taking away the pain.
- Companioning is about going to the wilderness of the soul with another human being; it is not about thinking you are responsible for finding the way out.
- Companioning is about honoring the spirit; it is not about focusing on the intellect.
- Companioning is about listening with the heart; it is not about analyzing with the head.
- Companioning is about bearing witness to the struggles of others; it is not about judging or directing these struggles.
- Companioning is about walking alongside; it is not about leading or being led.
- Companioning is about discovering the gifts of sacred silence; it is not about filling up every moment with words.
- Companioning is about being still; it is not about frantic movement forward.
- Companioning is about respecting disorder and confusion; it is not about imposing order and logic.
- Companioning is about learning from others; it is not about teaching them.
- Companioning is about compassionate curiosity; it is not about expertise.