"We must learn the art and craft of grief, discover the profound ways it ripens and deepens us. While grief is an intense emotion, it is also a skill we develop through a prolonged walk with loss. Facing grief is hard work...it takes outrageous courage to face outrageous loss. This is precisely what we are being called to do. Learning to welcome, hold, and metabolize these sorrows is the work of a lifetime...".
Clea Jonquil Hargreaves, MAS, E-RYT-500+, Archivist, Researcher, Grief Counsellor, Somatic Therapist, Trauma Informed.
As an archivist, researcher, grief counsellor, somatic therapist, complex trauma survivor and compassionate human it is my desire to provide a safe space for witnessing and healing as we journey together through this beautiful and at times heartbreaking gift of life.
For years I have been enraptured by the connection between memory, and preservation, and the increasing awareness that is being explored as a way to explain how grief, loss, trauma and memory affect our most basic functions of life and survival.
Long held as a fundamental assumption of archival theory and practice, the notion of impartiality is being questioned as archival scholars and practitioners examine the nature of emotion, empathy, grief, trauma, and loss in the archives. Grief and loss find resonance not only within the fonds but also with those whose purpose it is to witness and preserve our collective narrative of existence. Sir Hilary Jenkinson stated, “The archivist’s career is one of service. He exists in order to make the other people’s work possible…the good archivist is perhaps the most selfless devotee of truth the modern world produces” (1957, p.23). With Jenkinson’s teachings remaining influential within archival theory and practice one can’t help but wonder if there is a place for tears in the archive, past, present and future. Are we able, and willing, to hold both archival professionalism and form alongside empathy? Must a good archivist hold space for grief, and further, where does the historical and emotional context fit within the natural processes of “good” archival and grief work?
Archival work and grief work are both intrinsically devoted to the documentation and preservation of humanity. In 2013, Samantha Dancunto stated in the article “Dying to Get Archived” that “death is the reason we archive, whether it is the fear of it, the anticipation of it, or the aftermath of death” (2013), leading one to wonder how discussions of grief, loss, and death in the archives have not been more central to our work. One explanation, from psychologist and grief expert Megan Devine, is that “ the way we deal with grief in our culture is broken” (2017, p.xv), linking the socially accepted internalization, and hiding away, of grief in our society to an inability to face the reality of our place in the cycle of life and death. In recognition of the most natural and common aspects of archival work relating directly to grief, death, and trauma, as archivists we must ask ourselves what happens to our holdings and institutions when emotions cease to exist, and further, how to address the emotional denial so embedded in our societal and institutional infrastructures.
I believe passionately that everyone deserves to be supported in their grief, trauma and loss and offer unconditional acceptance alongside tools and practices designed to help discover, honour and integrate the numerous individual and collective losses, traumas, and disconnections we all experience within our past, present and future. In combining intellectual, sensory, somatic, and energetic modalities we will be able to illuminate and work with many parts relating to the impermanence of life, loss, and death while exploring how archival work seeks to shape and re-shape the narratives of the past and present allowing for a more expansive and inclusive historical record.
"It is said that in every loss there is an opportunity to uncover and heal the losses of a lifetime. The deeper the loss, the deeper the opportunity" (Stephen Levine).
It is an immense honour to hold space for you as you journey home to yourself, thank you.
Exploring the past, preserving the legacy...
Past, Present, Future.
The Embodied Grief Archive offers personal archival services, community archival projects, grief, trauma, and loss research, as well as individual, family and group counselling support. Connections take place in person, virtually or as a combination of the two, always taking into consideration the levels of personal comfort and safety.
*Virtually defined as Zoom, FaceTime, Telephone and Text Support Services.
"Death is the reason we archive, whether it is the fear of it, the anticipation of it, or the aftermath of death..." Samantha Dacunto
As Archivists and Humans, we have the power to decide what is kept and discarded, which serves to cultivate a historical narrative interlacing truth, nostalgia and bias. Archival work captures memory as it exists in the moment leaving traces of all those who have come before. It is believed that we archive largely due to the fear of being forgotten, that without documentation our memory, and the memories of those we love, will cease to exist. As memory is often inherently flawed, ephemera, records and material belongings seek to represent and connect us to a deeper understanding of how we fit into our past, present and future worlds.
Reasons for Personal Archiving:
Discovery and definition of the self
Honouring those we care about
Connecting with the past
Finding and creating a sense of place
Framing both the individual and collective historical record
Seeking to augment or rewrite historical injustices and or generational traumas
Uncovering the Past...Preserving the Legacy.
Coming Soon...Archiving Grief. A community based project seeking to support, document and better understand the unifying powers of grief and grief expression. Stay tuned on the website and at @embodiedgrief on instagram for updates and information.
Please be in touch to learn more about The Embodied Grief Archive.
"To embody is to welcome in all of your senses, both visible and non, to fully encompass what is being felt in the moment. To embody calls in the mind, body, and soul, transcends rational thought and instead allows the manifestation of wholeness to inhabit every part of you. To embody is to honour what is real, worthy, and sacred as we connect to presence and traverse the ever changing journey of awareness, acceptance, and unconditional love...".