"Mourning is not forgetting . . . It is an undoing. Every minute tie has to be untied and something permanent and valuable recovered and assimilated from the knot. The end is gain, of course. Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be made strong, in fact. But the process is like all other human births, painful and long and dangerous."

-- Margery Allingham -- The Tiger in the Smoke

Cendra Lynn
Director & Founder

My training, my experience, and my love is to assist people with their grieving. Like most grief professionals, I came to this work by accident. In the middle of one of this country's first conferences on death and dying, the memory of my grandfather's death was suddenly uncovered. He had died when I was seven, and I was told "Don't cry around your grandmother. It will just remind her of Papaw."

I did not yet know that the recently bereaved are never without the thought of their loved one. So I grieved in hiding: in my closet or under my covers at night. I also grieved in my nightmares, my terror of the dark, of elevators, of strangers, and of the snakes under my bed which lay in wait for me every night. Until finally, after endless days and nights, my grandfather returned to me in a dream, dressed as an angel with huge wings, and said, "Don't worry. I am doing lovely work in heaven."

This enabled me to bury my grief. And as adults seldom talked about my grandfather, even these memories vanished....until that conference 23 years later. Then, unbidden, all those memories flooded me. I was overwhelmed, indeed incapacitated. I went back to the home of the friend with whom I was staying, and kept her up all night as I relived all those old terrors.

There were no grief professionals in those days, the early Seventies. Neither my friend nor anyone else knew how to help me. And then came the small miracle: my grandmother gave me a copy of I Heard The Owl Call My Name, by Margaret Craven. She said an aide in her retirement center had given it to her, and it had helped her to begin to think about death, especially the recent death of her sister. Thus began my path to becoming a grief counsellor and a grief educator, the path to creating GriefNet.

Grief work is exactly that: work. It is exhausting, it is lengthy, it is terrifying, it is often unbearable. It is work that is best done with others, for the hallmark of grief is loneliness. The bereaved are often shunned, a result of others’ fears of death and loss. After the socially sanctioned period of mourning, the bereaved are expected to put their grief behind them. But just as parents hunt unceasingly for a lost child, so do the bereaved search unendingly for their loved one until their grief work is done. And that work is done only when the bereaved are able to live comfortably with the memory of that loved one, of that loss.

When we are bereaved we are comforted most by those who have suffered a similar loss. With them we know we are understood, that we are safe to experience the multiple aspects of our grief. We can talk to them about feelings, about dreams, about wishes, about fears, for they have had them, too. My dream was to create a safe space where those who grieve could set aside the burdens of daily life and give voice to their sorrow. The space I envisioned is best described by J.R.R. Tolkien in his books about hobbits. He named that space Rivendell.

Rivendell was the safe house in the wilderness, a place of refuge and comfort. Guarded by elves, the "cloven vale" was safe from all evil. "Merely to be there was a cure for weariness, fear, and sadness.." Visitors arriving there talked and thought about their past journeys and about the perils that still lay before them, but the spirit of that land soon lifted their fear and anxiety. The good or ill of the past and the future was not forgotten, but their power over the present ceased. Instead, "health and hope grew strong in them" and they learned to be content with each day as it came and to take pleasure in every meal, word, and song.

Providentially, I not only had my decades of experience as a clinical psychologist, I was blessed with a in-depth knowledge of computer use, experience with multiple types of personal growth groups, and a strong academic background. The creation of the Internet provided the missing piece to build this safe haven for dealing with death, dying, grief, and major loss. You can learn more about my professional background here.

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