Grief: A skill that can be learned?

YOUNG people have the chance to learn about grief from visiting teacher Stephen Jenkinson, of Canada, for free at a film screening and talk in Mullum Civic Hall on Friday February 19 with the Natural Death Care Centre.

Grief is indiscriminate: it can visit all of us no matter what age, the Centre said in a release.

And in fact young people, perceiving the struggle adults have in expressing our grief, often have a very difficult time carrying their grief.

Grief comes in many guises: on the death of a grandparent, parent, brother or sister; when it's time to say farewell to the family pet; when a family breaks apart and parent separate; at the loss of friends after moving house or to a new school; when illness visits; or in mourning the devastating impact we are having on our planet.

But what if, according to Stephen Jenkinson, "Grief is not a feeling. Grief is a skill"... a skill that can be learned.

"And the twin of grief as a skill ... is the skill of being able to praise or love life: which means wherever you find one authentically done, the other is very close at hand - grief and the praise of life, side by side," Mr Jenkinson said.

Mr Jenkinson has a strong belief that children and young adults need and deserve an opportunity to have deep, informed discussions on the subject of grief, and those other stumbling blocks in our culture: death and dying.

He is a 'Griefwalker', with a National Film Board of Canada documentary film of that same title made about his life and work. He is also a storyteller, spiritual activist, ceremonialist, author, farmer and teacher.

Having retired from a life working in palliative care counselling, Stephen Jenkinson now spends many of his days teaching through the Orphan Wisdom School that he founded in Canada.

Teaching the skills of deep living and of grief to people of all ages and from around the globe.

One such scholar, Lelli Brown, has made the journey from Byron to Ontario, Canada for four weeks of intense life learning over the past two years.

It is Lelli, in partnership with Zenith Virago's Natural Death Care Centre, who has invited Stephen to Australia to talk later this month in Mullumbimby.

Stephen Jenkinson will speak and take questions at a screening of Griefwalker to be held at the Mullum Civic Hall on Friday February 19 from 7pm.

Whilst this is an event for all ages and not specifically tailored to younger children, the film and talk thereafter may be relevant and welcome for young people walking the path of sorrow for whatever reason.

And, echoing Stephen's belief in the importance of sharing his teachings with young people, the Natural Death Care Centre is inviting those under 16 to come along for FREE.

Mullum Civic Hall, Mullumbimby - Friday February 19 7-9:30pm

FILM & TALK: Griefwalker - a screening and in depth Q&A addressing a few of the themes appearing in the film: Where does our culture's death phobia come from? Is there such a thing as a good death? How is it that grief could be a skill instead of an affliction? How can seeing your life's end be the beginning of your deep love of being alive?

Explore these questions and more, as you listen to Stephen's thoughts on how we might begin to do death well.

$20 - bookings at or $25 on the door - call 0410 327 401 for group bookings 5+

Earth Heart Lodge, Mullumbimby - Sunday February 21 9am-3pm

DAY-LONG TEACHING: Making Meaning of the Ending of Days - "The beginning of the end of our life, and maybe our way of life, is now in view. It has always been there. This isn't punishment, any more than dying is a punishment for being born. Instead, the world whispers: All we need of you is that you be human, now. Our work is to sort out what being human should be in such a time." Stephen will touch on themes from his book "Die Wise" that teach the skills of dying, skills that have to be learned in the course of living deeply and well.

$160/$135 concession - bookings at or $180/$155 on the door if places available

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