The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief (Weller, 2015)

The first question I’d ask is: “What does a book on grief have to do with organization development?” Or maybe you saw this and thought, “wild edge of sorrow? That sounds like my day yesterday.” My experience in the United States is that we aren’t very good at acknowledging loss, much less grieving and mourning it. This book has been transformative for me in my quest to become a whole human. Organizations are made of people, often encountering each other in varying degrees of wholeness. As we become more whole, more ourselves, we show up in ways that are more productive, more resonant, more filled with life than we might if we don’t tend our own souls. I’m convinced that growing skill in grieving and mourning loss is a crucial step toward being fully human, which will enable me to show up for people and contribute in profound ways.

It was a friend reading me this quote that led me to explore Weller’s book in its entirety:

“It is indeed the mark of the mature adult to be able to carry these two truths simultaneously. Life is hard, filled with loss and suffering. Life is glorious, stunning, and incomparable. To deny either truth is to live in some fantasy of the ideal or to be crushed by the weight of pain. Instead, both are true, and it requires familiarity with both sorrow and joy to fully encompass the full range of being human.”

(Weller, 2015. p 110)

I met that quote in a moment of deep familiarity with sorrow and crushing pain. It was a lifeline to remember that life is, indeed, “glorious, stunning, and incomparable.” and to remember that is true even in the midst of pain. The images above include quotes that were particularly meaningful to me. Because our organizations are full of humans, and humans are always experiencing pleasure and suffering, joy and despair, I think it’s important that we learn how to deal with both. I think it’s especially important to be familiar with loss, which comes to us in many forms in organizational life: mergers and acquisitions, layoffs and reorganizations, success and failure. All of these are regular experiences in the modern workplace and becoming skilled in facing them honestly makes the difference in whether we thrive or merely survive.

Weller, F. (2015). The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief. North Atlantic Books.

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