Inspiring hope, solace, and courage in living through our losses, author Martín Prechtel, trained in the Tzutujil Maya shamanic tradition, gives an engaging, surprisingly humorous series of 20 short teachings on the relationship between grief and praise in our culture--how the inability that many of us have to grieve and weep properly for the dead is deeply linked with the inability to give praise for living. In modern society, grief is something that we usually experience in private, alone and without the support of a community. Yet, as Prechtel says, "Grief expressed out loud for someone we have lost, or a country or home we have lost, is in itself the greatest praise we could ever give them. Grief is praise, because it is the natural way love honors what it misses."
Prechtel explains that the unexpressed grief prevalent in our society today is the reason for many of the social, cultural, and individual maladies that we are currently experiencing. According to Prechtel, "When you have two centuries of people who have not properly grieved the things that they have lost, the grief shows up as ghosts that inhabit their grandchildren." These "ghosts," he says, can manifest as disease in the form of tumors, which the Maya refer to as "solidified tears," or in the form of behavioral issues and depression. He goes on to show how this collective, unexpressed energy is the long-held grief of our ancestors manifesting itself, and the work that can be done to liberate this energy so we can heal from the trauma of loss, war, and suffering.
At base, this "little book," as the author calls it, can be seen as a companion of encouragement, a little extra light for those deep and noble parts in all of us.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: Like Smooth Well-Worn Pebbles
2. Grief: The Many Types
3. When You Hear the Sound of New Life: Natural Unavoidable Grief of Living
4. Fresh Grief
5. Old Grief
6. Personal Grief versus Inherited Grief
7. Ancestral Grief
8. The Smell of Rain on Dust: Praise
9. Courting: Praise as a Way of Grieving
10. Metabolizing Loss into Life through Grief and Praise
11. When Grief Is Old and Unmetabolized
12. Addiction to Loss
13. Loss, Lack of Fresh Grief, and Violence: Personal, Familial, Cultural, National and International
14. Ghosts, Grief and Addiction
15. Metabolizing War Grief
16. Five Generations: Someone's Got to Learn to Metabolize the Ghosts of Frozen Loss
17. What It Might Look like: Examples of Grief Intactness
18. Old Cultures and New Ones Who Can Make the World Jump Back to Life with Real Praise and Grief Capacity
19. The Simplest Things Make the Biggest Differences: The Heroic Effort of Those Who Would Try