Mindful Grieving

My brother Gerry and I grew up with the blessings of a warm and loving family.

Mother and Dad were actively involved in both the Jewish and secular communities, and they modeled generosity and kindness. When we were kids, our friends loved to hang out at our house, where there was always a sympathetic ear and a full refrigerator.

A profound experience at the age of eighteen prompted me to explore various realms of spirituality, and eventually to arrive at the practice of meditation. I began to keep the journal which has contributed powerfully to my spiritual practice and development.

After a divorce in my early thirties, I realized that I had much to learn about myself, and about my inner world. I lived and studied in Mexico for several months, and returned more open to new things. Soon after, I encountered my first mentor, with whom I studied for the next eighteen years, and with whose guidance I developed the meditation and mindfulness practices that sustain me still. Since then I have studied, both in America and abroad, with other masterful teachers who have had a transformative effect upon my life.

I have long valued the power of artistic expression as a way of deepening my relationship to vast consciousness and to the Mystery. I lived in Israel for several years, where, in addition to studying both Judaism and Taoism, I created contemporary tapestries that were featured in a single-artist exhibition at the American Cultural Center in Jerusalem.

In addition to writing and tapestry weaving as modes of spiritual exploration, I celebrate creativity through dance. I have danced in a variety of forms since the age of five, and I still use dance as a form of meditation and to express my inner being in the external world.

I have taught seminars in practical spirituality through Southern Oregon University and privately, and have applied the principles in private spiritual counseling. I have used them in my work as former executive director of a community dispute resolution center, and in every other aspect of my life. I currently work as Assistant to the Rabbi in my synagogue community and facilitate a weekly drop-in Loss and Mindfulness group at our local bereavement center.

For many years, I have been drawn to deepen my understanding of what people experience as the end of life approaches. After my mother’s death, I also became interested in how we grieve our loved ones. I came to realize that I could convert the material in my journals to a form that could help others to heal. The result of this work is the book, Dancing in My Mother’s Slippers. The prayers in Circles are an expression of time spent with ill and dying people, and of my own and others’ experiences of grief. Both books intimately reflect the conscious process of grief and healing which grew from my own spiritual practice.

My conscious inclusion of death in my daily mindfulness practice helps me to feel exquisitely alive. I hope that, as people read Dancing and Circles, they will be reminded of the sweetness, humor, courage and inspiration that often accompany sorrow in times of loss, and that can be found, as well, in our everyday experiences.

Fayegail Mandell Bisaccia is the author of Dancing in My Mother’s Slippers: A Journey of Grief and Healing and Circles: Prayers for the End of Life. She also writes stories and essays. Her story, “The Anniversary,” appears in the anthology, More Kisses. Fayegail’s writings about death and dying, grief and healing are uplifting, moving, insightful, and sometimes humorous. Her work is infused with her deeply-held values of mindfulness and community. 

Fayegail facilitates a weekly drop-in grief support group called Loss and Mindfulness, and she serves as Assistant to the Rabbi at her local synagogue. Her work often enables her to be with people who are ill, dying, or bereaved.

She currently lives in Ashland, Oregon, with her husband, Lance, and their cat, Maya, both of whom appear prominently in Dancing.

Copyright © 2006 Fayegail Mandell Bisaccia. All Rights Reserved. Design by LightWerx Media.
Sunset photo © 2006 Benjamin Fisher. Portraits by Shianna Walker.
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