Grief. Women. Wisdom. Lancaster

Fabiola Santana

For the last 6 months I have been connecting with Lancaster and its communities, through my project A Home for Grief – at residency in Lancaster Arts.

I feel deeply touched by the openness that I have encountered, and the tender way people have shared their personal stories with me. These will carry you in the walk and welcome you into the house. Inside, I am leaving space for you to come and share too.

While here I have danced, performed rituals, been embraced by and had meals with women looking for refuge and asylum, recorded 4 women’s stories, and led workshops at the Tara Centre and Lancaster University.

In its process A Home for Grief has been exploring

liminal material the purpose of ritual potency of words and sounding thresholds separations transition vulnerability journeys unknown known goodbyes renewal care acceptance social ancestors grief life death

Walking the landscape and in the house we have discovered

ladybirds tears carrying the bark of a tree bells blazing trails disintegration poems burying twigs feeding birds growing number of coins in a tree prayer beads flow mud marks in the sand dogs cats wooshing hypnotic patterns old stones rust crossings dreamy chaotic food humour encouragement flowers washing hands last words making marks burning carrying tying regrets

I came to Lancaster in search of a community that would support the creation of a shared space. Attempting to enrich the conversations and shared experiences, open to everyone who wishes to contemplate our finite nature and how we support ourselves and others.

The exchanges thus far have impressed upon me the honour given to the listener. To hold the space and be the witness of storytelling. Awaken by the empathy in real tears and deep feeling. Observing the way their hands move when they speak of love and difficult moments. I am reminded of my grandmothers and my father, for whom this journey started.

I was born to a displaced Angolan, stripped of her homeland rituals and customs; and a white Portuguese father. I inhabit a space between ethnicity and culture, in a Catholic and atheist family. I grew up with stories of my maternal grandmother, although because of the civil war I never met her. I witnessed my paternal grandmother's slow decay through Alzheimer's. Her body and mind inhabited states of presence not always accessible to us. My father died when I was 7 years old. I did not attend his funeral, nor could I collect his bones when they were dug-up. I am left with no rituals or specific site to pay my respects.

‘Lack of control’ is how a lot of the people I have came across describe grief. How would you describe it?

You might spot us in this week walking the streets of Lancaster with our headphones on. Stop us and let’s have a chat.

Experience A Home for Grief’s performances and installation 16th 17th and 18th May 2019. Only 12 slots a day.

Fabiola Santana
May 2019

Posted on 3rd May, 2019