First: Trigger warning. In this post I am talking about what Francis Weller calls the third gate of grief – the sorrows of the world.
Specifically Israel/Palestine. If this topic is too much for you at the time, please skip this or come back to it at a time when you have more space. 💔
Here’s something most people don’t know about me:
As a child I was obsessed with the Holocaust.
I read the Diary of Anne Frank and then every other book I could find in the library.
I begged my mom to take me to see Schindlers List when it hit the movie theaters in 1993.
I was 11 years old.
I never thought about why at the time, it was just a compulsion.
But now as a trauma therapist, I think that as a child who suffered severe abuse and neglect, I was probably desperately trying to understand how human beings can be so cruel to each other.
Maybe I was trying to understand my own suffering, and also the possibility of resilience & self-responsibility so eloquently expressed in the works of people like Victor Frankl, and today, Gabor Mate.
This was not my only unusual childhood interest. I filled my house with rescued dogs and had two rescue horses at one point as well. I fed and made friends with stray cats.
I loved novels about kids and animals who were homeless, orphaned or abused and managed to find their way in the world despite everything.
I also learned more details about the Canadian Residential School System and the genocide of Indigenous people in Canada than was probably developmentally healthy for my tender years.
As poet Naomi Shahib Nye articulates in her poem, “Kindness,” I needed to “know the size of the cloth” (of human suffering)
So today as we collectively try to grapple with the mass murder of Israeli civilians followed by retaliation from the Israeli government targeting civilians (read: women & children who are taking refuge in hospitals, refugee camps & schools being bombed), it is not without some background & understanding of the suffering on both sides of the line that I approach this topic.
One thing that I’m not seeing named enough is how the immediate and vengeful response of the Israeli government has made it so that the people of Israel and Jewish folks of the world did not get time – not even a moment – to grieve in peace.
They were not asked what they felt an appropriate response to the devastation of their lives.
💔 I have seen some incredible videos of young Israeli people who survived the Hamas attack begging their government to stop the bombing of Palestinian people. 💔
To me this indicates an incredible capacity to experience suffering and still keep their hearts open to the suffering of others.
This is so powerful, and so needed at this time.
I have heard over the last few days that my call out for a Global Day of Grieving did not feel welcoming to Jewish grief.
I want to be clear that all grief IS welcome in this space.
We understand that, as Alexis P. Morgan, a young Black American Jewish queer woman so powerfully articulated, “Zionism is a threat to Jewish people everywhere.” 💔
I understand that there is a huge amount of fear and trauma that is being processed by many Jewish people right now.
I want to say, I would hide you if they came for you.
I would hide anyone who was being hunted for their identity/race/ethnicity.
No one should live in fear, but the colonial powers that be would prefer most of us do.
We are much easier to control when we are afraid or stuck in grief/trauma.
And as I always teach, we cannot compare one grief as more relevant than another. It is all relevant and worthy or our love, compassion and tears.
We ALL need to grieve, or right action will never come clear.
I cried and felt so much when I first heard what happened in Israel. But ever since, there has not been space for that, because it is totally overridden by the horrific and indiscriminate killing of thousands of Palestinian children & civilians since October 7th.
Those of us who are holding the space are struggling on a daily basis to process all of this ourselves. We are aware that people of all identities are struggling in different ways.
We are going to do our best to hold space for all of it. It won’t be perfect. It might even be a crazy thing to attempt. But we will be there, and I hope if you feel called you will join us.
Below you can read bios for Jane Spielman, who is a Jewish Elder, Grief Counsellor and 2023 student also & Daniela Abedrabbo, a Palestinian counsellor. Both these incredible women will be holding space for their respective breakout rooms on Saturday.
It is also nearly impossible to process the level of grief and suffering around the world at this time without the support of community spaces for grief.
We are all connected, and in my experience, even if we aren’t reading the news, it is nearly impossible to not be impacted by the amount of grief, anger and helplessness stirring in the world and in our collective hearts.
I am deeply grateful to Amber Keith, who has stepped forward to lead the co-creation of a free community grief space for Palestine/Israel this Saturday. I will be assisting/supporting and look forward to seeing those of you who feel called in this sacred space. Youu can also read her bio on the registration page.
Dr. Jane Spielman – Jewish Elder, Grief Tender, Activist & Writer
Jane Spielman, Ph.D. has never felt more Jewish than she feels in her rooted stance for peace with what’s happening in the Middle East today. Raised secularly, she joined a synagogue when her wife of then 20 years retired and decided she needed a congregation that supported them as lesbian anti-zionist activists.
They found one in New York City where Jane still lives. Her partner B’MItzvahed and took a social justice trip to Israel when she was 83 years old and they married there. When Jane’s partner became ill, the congregation provided 5 years of top-tier pastoral care. When she died, the pastoral care shifted to in-depth grief tending.
Dr. Jane is a life-long educator who now works as a somatic grief and trauma tender. She offers support to caregivers and families in transition. As a Reiki Master and writer, she offers a myriad of tools that support clients to find their own healing.
Jane is immensely grateful to all the communities she’s a part of as she evolves into eldering.
Daniela Abedrabbo, Master Practitioner in Clinical Counselling
Daniela is a clinical counsellor, MPCC and RPC with the Canadian Professional Counselling Association. With over a decade of experience as a Counsellor and Certified Coach, Daniela brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her practice.
Daniela is a highly skilled therapist with a passion for nurturing the connections that bind us together. Her expertise extends beyond the realm of traditional therapy, as she wholeheartedly embraces the beauty of all relationships—whether they be between friends, business partners, or family members and more.
Daniela enjoys the opportunity to guide individuals and groups toward rediscovering the art of truly hearing each other. She believes that genuine connection is the key to harmony and that the path to it often requires vulnerability, openness, and empathy.
In her therapeutic work, Daniela exemplifies the principles of non-judgment, trauma-informed care, and client-centered counselling. She adopts a solution-based and holistic approach, embracing the interconnectedness of the body, mind, and spirit within her practice.
Compassion and kindness are at the core of Daniela’s approach.
She listens deeply, offers support, and creates a safe space for her clients to explore their feelings and thoughts.
Her dedication to helping people find their light is a testament to her commitment to personal growth, healing, and strengthening the bonds that make our lives meaningful. Daniela is not just a therapist; she is a beacon of hope for those on a journey to more profound, more authentic connections.
Daniela Abedrabbo, RPC, MPCC #3850
Registered Professional Counsellor,
Master Practitioner in Clinical Counselling,
Dr. Gabor Mate Interview on Palestine
Dr. Gabor Mate is an expert in the field of trauma, has worked in Israel with Palestinian people tortured in Israeli prisons and is of Jewish descent and a survivor of the Holocaust.
Science & Non-duality hosted this interview this morning. “We invited Dr. Gabor Maté to address some of the pressing questions on our hearts, and to offer his insights on the unfolding tragedy in Palestine and Israel. In this Q&A session, we explore the roots of systemic violence, the impacts of historical and intergenerational trauma, and pathways to restore our shared humanity. How might we break tragic cycles of trauma transmission, widen our circles of compassion, and stand for dignity and justice?”
You can listen to this most recent full interview HERE.
I also highly recommend watching this very well thought out commentary on the genocide in Palestine and killing of Israeli civilians by Hamas by Dr. Mate if you are wanting to understand more fully the conflict in a space that honours nervous system regulation. Listen to the full interview (30 minutes) HERE
Excerpt from “Kindness” by Naomi Shihab Nye,
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.
Naomi Shihab Nye is an American-Palestinian poet who grew up between the Old City of Jerusalem and Texas.
Now, a final note on nervous system capacity.
When we are processing our own personal major trauma & grief, often we just don’t have the bandwidth in our nervous system for processing world events.
And that is okay. It’s okay to be exactly where you are in your process. It’s okay to go slow.
It’s okay to take care of yourself.
It’s okay to be gentle with yourself.
It’s necessary to tend to your own well-being.
You are the only one who can know what your capacity is.
It is okay to allow yourself to be nourished, even in these times when there is so much suffering. I’m seeing a lot of shaming online of folks who aren’t able to be present with what is happening in Palestine/Israel at this time, and while I agree we collectively need to pay attention, we also need to recognize & honour our nervous systems & bodies.
💛💛💛Thank you for being a part of my community – I’m so grateful to share this space with you. 💛💛💛