We had the good fortune of connecting with siobhan asgharzadeh and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi siobhan, maybe we can start at the very start – the idea – how did you come up with the idea for your business?
Grief pilgrim was born out of my journey with both birth and death work. I began to see in both the birthing world and dying world that many people had moved away from meeting life in its fullness because of the fear of death. Behind the fear of death seemed to be a fear of the grieving process that death and dying catalyze. As I became more curious, I saw unmetabolized grief everywhere in all aspects of life. I knew that we as a culture must re-imagine the way we relate to grief in order to survive the increasing devastations happening on planet earth. I also consider myself a pilgrim. I have walked the pilgrimage of Santiago de Compostela twice and it became clear to me that walking a pilgrimage is really about visiting an inner landscape. The metaphor of a grief pilgrimage brings us into a deep understanding that we are on this pilgrimage with grief our whole lives, walking with all of the losses we will experience in these tender mortal bodies, and that we have choice in the way we perceive this journey. Looking at grief territory as holy lands, working with grief with reverence changes everything. Thus grief pilgrim was born and continues, like a child, to teach me daily about what it is.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Arriving at this vocation was a natural process of following inquiry about what it means to be a human well, and how can I support others in those initiations and imaginings. Accumulating losses through my lifetime and working to keep my eyes open as I navigated the underworld territory where those losses brought me, brought me into a longing for more grief literacy in the collective and Grief Pilgrim is my way of nourishing that longing. Grief pilgrim was and continues to be influenced by my work with birth and death midwifery, dance, vocal expression, storytelling and my love for the wild lands, as well as my time being a pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago. Getting to the place where I am professionally was a natural progression of feeling the grief of the world and feeling a longing for a more grief literate culture.
What I have learned is that everyone is a grief pilgrim, wether they are aware of it or not. By claiming this, we honor our humanness and can begin to re-imagine how we want to relate in a generative way to this very human experience we call grief. I believe that our collective relationship with grief needs to be re-worked if we are to survive in this world of expanding loss. Rather then pathologizing, wronging, shaming or ignoring our grief, there is a possibility to relate to grief as an expression of our love, a love that once exists can never die. We can honor our grief and let our grief shape us into being more compassionate, kind, loving and generous humans on planet earth. Grief can be an ally rather than an enemy.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would take them right out of the city and into the woods to camp, to wander and wonder in the wild lands, to sit by a creek and maybe jump into that ice cold water, to lie naked in the sun, to put their nose in a ponderosa and receive that butterscotch and vanilla gift, to take off their shoes and walk barefoot, to crawl up rocks and listen to birdsong, to look for mushrooms and interesting insects, to breath in that fresh forest air, to make wonderful meals that always taste better in the woods, to sit around a fire at night and sing, and to lie our bodies under that starry night sky once it’s dark and watch for shooting stars.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are many teachers that helped awaken me to my gifts, including midwifery teacher Whapio Bartlett, botany and nature awareness teachers Frank Cook, Katrina Blair and Doug Simons, indegenous history and skills teacher Martin Prechtel, Grief mentor Francis Weller, end of life guide Tarron Estes and so many more. I also have deep gratitude for the wild earth and my journey with multiple sclerosis, which have been the two most profound teachers.
Facebook: siobhan asgharzadeh