A Long Way From Home: The Grief of Black Women & Mothers
As Black mothers and daughters, our minds, bodies and spirits have been tested to the limits. Between COVID-19 and social injustice/unrest, we have experienced grief and trauma up close and from a unique point of view.
Join us at the Table to discuss grief’s impact on minds, bodies, and spirits--both the ancestral pain handed down from mother to daughter as well as how we navigate current traumas of police brutality, the school to prison pipeline, and overall distrust in the systems. Table Talkers will offer strategies to heal trauma and create a more beautiful future for our children, families, and communities.
About Table Talk
A Table Talk is an honest, lively, and unscripted conversation among health professionals, spiritual and faith-based leaders, artists and other creative individuals to address this central question: "What does it mean to live and die well in our respective communities?" Every community and culture -- Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian American, Disabled, LGBTQ+, etc. -- has its own unique perspective and shared truth. We face tremendous challenges in dealing with serious illness, dying, grief, discrimination, and inequity. At the same time we search for space to connect, flourish, remember, and celebrate.
Many of us describe more than one of these groups as home, and many of us have experienced oppression based on multiple aspects of our intersecting identities: race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and more. At present, we have few spaces to talk about these questions freely, in ways that make sense for who we are. That’s why Reimagine launched Table Talk. While this ongoing series is explicitly created by and for underrepresented communities, we invite people of all backgrounds to join us to witness, listen and learn. Ultimately we are creating space rooted in the principles of Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion in order for everyone to thrive.
The Black Table Talk series is led by Reimagine’s Senior Director of Development Stephanie Rivers in consultation with staff and community collaborators.
I was moved to begin this journey in 2014, after the death of a close mother figure. During her dying process, I unknowingly fell into the role of a Death Guide. I provided safe, loving space for her to freely express her thoughts around dying. I sat vigil, recorded her stories and listened to the concerns of her family. Inhabiting that tender space with her/them was tremendous. Years later, wanting to provide that same safe space to others, I completed my Death Doula training via Going With Grace, participated as a Student Guide, and trained as a Hospice Volunteer. Drawing upon my compassionate listening skills, background in art, Breathwork training and personal experience creating rituals, I look forward to walking alongside you.
Certification And Education: 31 years in a Black, Queer Body; A Lifelong Brooklynite/New Yorker; Sarah Lawrence College, BA in Biblical Literature, Studio Art and History; Going with Grace Graduate and Student Guide Leader; Member of NEDA Alliance (National End of Life Doula Alliance); Hospice Volunteer with Visiting Nurse Services; Friendly Phone Volunteer with Griot Circle; Compassionate Listening Training with A Sacred Passing; Level I Breathwork Healer Training with Erin Telford; Level 1 Grief Literacy Training with Being Here Human. Instagram. Check out Glorious Hum resources.
Alica Forneret is an author and consultant who creates spaces for people to explore their grief. She is fiercely committed to making sure that we have more conversations about grief, death, and dying - whether that’s at home, at work, or with strangers on the bus. Alica is a member of the BC Women's Health Foundation’s Young Women's Council, an Associate Board Member of Our House Grief Center, and hosts end-of-life events across The United States and Canada. Alica’s written work has been featured on the pages of popular magazines and books, including (but not limited to) GQ, Modern Loss, Grief Dialogues, Vancouver Magazine, and Kinfolk. And her story and voice have been featured in the NY Times, LA Times, Women’s Health, Psychology Today, CTV News, Grief Out Loud, InStyle, and more.
Oceana Sawyer is an End of Life Doula focused on the liminal space of active dying and grief. She is currently researching and holding space in the realm of embodied grieving in a context of somatic abolitionism. Drawing upon her meditation practices, experience as a sensuality educator, earth-based spirituality, and an intensive study in the expressive arts and integral counseling psychology, she brings a grounded, compassionate presence to her work with individuals and groups. You can follow her on her Instagram and participate in her online grief community on Patreon.
Hailing from Nigeria, Adaku Utah is an Igbo Queer teacher, organizer, healer and ritual artist committed to cultivating movements that are strategic, sustainable and mutually nourishing. For over twenty years, her work has centered in movements for radical social change, with a focus on gender, reproductive, race, youth and healing justice. She has taught and organized both nationally and internationally with organizations like the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health, Black Lives Matter, Black LGBTQI+ Migrant Project, The Movement for Black Lives, Yale University, Planned Parenthood, Astraea Foundation, Black Women’s Blueprint, the Audre Lorde Project and more. Alongside Harriet Tubman, she is the co-founder and co-director of Harriet's Apothecary, a healing village led by Black Cis Women, Queer and Trans healers, artists, and organizers committed to living out Harriet Tubman's legacy of centering healing, wellness, and safety as movement building strategies to deconstruct legacies of trauma and galvanize communities to shape generative transformation. She is currently the Organizing Director at the National Network of Abortion Funds where she plays a key role as a strategist, innovator, and implementer, building and mobilizing the left-flank organizing power and movement building efforts with 70+ member organizations, individual members, and network leaders across the country and world. Adaku teaches and coaches with BOLD (Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity), a national leadership training program designed to help rebuild Black social justice infrastructure in order to organize Black communities more effectively and re-center Black leadership in the U.S. social justice movement. She also teaches and coaches with Generative Somatics. She has been recognized as a 2020 Laundromat Project Community Impact Honoree, a 2017 Essence Magazine Woke 100 Change Maker and is a recipient of the 2017 Gye Nyame Empowerment Project My Sister's Keeper Award, the 2015 Blade of Grass Fellowship, the 2015 Laundromat Project Create Change Fellowship and the 2012 Sexuality Leadership Development Fellowship with the Africa Regional Sexuality Resource Centre in Lagos, Nigeria. Adaku proudly served as a founding board member of Soul Fire Farm for the last 6 years as a commitment to ending the racism and injustice in the food system. In her spare time, she loves nerding out about astrology, herbs, erotica, and sci-fi.