Our Individual and Collective Grief with Claire Willis

We are in the midst of whole-systems change and transformation on the planet. This includes major breakdowns in systems and structures, a global pandemic that has dramatically changed life as we knew it, political unrest, deep cultural wounds surfacing to heal, and of course loss –and death – of all kinds. Many of us are feeling a mix of emotions, including anxiety, despair, sadness, and anger. We might not recognize all this as grief — but we are grieving. Expert witness of grief, Claire Willis, joins us to talk about our individual and collective grief.

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Claire B. Willis, a clinical social worker, has been working in the fields of oncology and bereavement for more than twenty years. Her work and her life experience were the primary sources of inspiration for Opening to Grief.

A former staff member of The Wellness Community, a national organization, and cofounder of the Boston nonprofit Facing Cancer Together, Claire has led bereavement, end-of-life support, and therapeutic writing groups. She has co-taught Spiritual Resources for Healing the Mind, Body, and Soul at Andover Newton Theological School. Claire maintains a private practice in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Claire has worked in hospice care for many years, both as a volunteer and a social worker. As a lay Buddhist chaplain ordained by Joan Halifax at Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, she focuses on contemplative practices for end-of-life care. For the past five years, she has been a student of Koshin Paley Ellison, a founding teacher at the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care. Claire is the author of Lasting Words: A Guide to Finding Meaning Toward the Close of Life (Green Writers Press, Brattleboro, Vermont, 2014)

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