COVID Grief Gathering
Every second Tuesday of the month, the Reimagine community holds space for those mourning COVID-related losses. Volunteers will facilitate these peer-led gatherings using art and prompts to spark conversation and reflection. These gatherings are designed for all those who have experienced COVID loss.
Tony Pham (Butterfly) (he/they) is a heritage Buddhist, facilitator, and healer that occupies the intersection of queer and BIPOC identities. Tony is certified in Compassion Cultivation Training © (co-created by Thupten Jinpa at Stanford), teaching compassion and meditation at Tibet House US. He is a 2nd generation Vietnamese American whose parents arrived in the United States as refugees from war. Tony goes by Butterfly in spiritual spaces where they steward practices rooted in compassion, indigeneity, and sacred lineages. He is a student of Lama Rod Owens (Vajrayana/Tibetan Buddhism). They are also an alumnus of the East Bay Meditation Center’s year-long trauma informed mindfulness program for social justice activists. Tony previously received a Fulbright scholarship to conduct research in Viet Nam. He has also completed death doula and non-violent communication training. Butterfly is honored to serve as president on the board of directors of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship. They now reside in Brooklyn (occupied Canarsie/Munsee Lenape land). For more information, please visit tonyopham.com.
What’s said here stays here, what’s learned here leaves here.
See these questions (and this whole experience) as an invitation, not a demand. If you are moved to answer a different question than one we have listed, go for it. If you’re moved to sit and listen, that’s ok too - just being here is participating.
Speak from the heart
We’re used to speaking what we think we should, what we think others want to hear, or from ideas or stories we’ve told ourselves over and over. See if you can take risks to root into what is true and to share from that vulnerable place.
Listen from the heart
See if you can be fully present to what’s here, listening with compassion to whoever is speaking. Try on turning any judgement that arises (including judgment of yourself!) into wonder. “I wonder what brought her to this belief?” “I wonder what I don’t get?” “I wonder what my reaction teaches me about myself?” See if it’s possible to set aside judgment to listen to others—and to yourself—more deeply.
No one right way
There’s no one right way to grieve, to do this retreat, or to express yourself (for example: totally ok to cry, and totally ok not to cry). Try to reserve judgment, of others and of yourself.
Trust the silence
Take a few breaths before even thinking of responding or offering your own words. Learn to trust the silence, and to notice what arises in it. Take your time.
Cool is the enemy
Try on the idea that you (and everyone else here) totally belong. Let’s try to be an easy crowd for each other. That means presuming welcome, and extending welcome. What if we all let go of “cool”? Cool is the enemy. ;)
Share air time
Take space & make space. Groups work best when everyone has their eye on this.
Speak your truth in ways that respect other people’s truths. Consider using “I” statements so that you can speak from your center, instead of generalizing or making assumptions about everyone else.
No fixing, saving, advising, correcting
No need to jump in to fix anything, save anyone, or offer unsolicited advice. Trust folks’ own processes.
Focus on stories about loved ones
This is a space in which we center stories and support. If you are here to challenge or argue the safety practices of others (e.g., masking in public, vaccinations), this is not a space for you.