Thursday, March 31, 2011

Please read this article: Jason Pitzl-Waters' "A Pagan at Work"

Short version:  Please read this article.  It will take you two minutes, and it will help you understand the reality of my life, and the lives of many other ordinary Pagans, a lot better. 


I've written here, and spoken on many other occasions, about the discrimination many Pagans face in daily life. 

What always gets me is when non-Pagans just plain don't believe me.  It's as if some folks think I, and other Pagans, just make this shit up. 

On Monday, MSNBC broke the story of Carole A. Smith, whose firing from her job with the TSA seems to involve all sorts of things:
  • outright religious bigotry;
  • different treatment on the basis of religious identification ("If someone complains to you, he's Jewish, and refers to a stereotype about his Judaism, go to mediation and work it out? Is that management's response to that?" "No. That would not be management's response to that");
  • retaliation for whistle-blowing;
  • sexism ("She was emotional");
  • union-busting;
...just to name a few.

But the most public part is her being a Witch.

Smith's situation has resonated with a lot of Pagans in the US, for a lot of reasons. 

Including the fact that almost all of us have experienced at least some of what she has at work. 

I certainly have.  On more than one occasion.  

But... there's more. 

Jason says it better than I do. 

Jason Pitzl-Waters, a regular writer at the Washington Post's "On Faith" (Religion and Politics) section, has an excellent piece in today's paper about what's happening to Smith -- and what happens to us all, at work every day, and in the rest of our lives, every day.

Thank you, Jason.

Please, take a minute and read Jason's article.  I, personally, would really appreciate it.  

A Pagan at Work

Action Needed to Save Our Washington State Parks

I recently received this letter from the Washington State Parks Foundation (  I've camped in WA State Parks, have visited them for other reasons, and in general think they're wonderful. 

Having no revenue for the State Parks System in the State budget is a BIG problem for WA State Parks.  Please consider a way you can help -- especially time or money, and calling the governor and your representative.

Thank you.  


Dear Friends of State Parks,

Saint Patrick’s Day has come and gone, but there was no pot of gold in the State Revenue Forecast. While the numbers were not as bad as some had feared, the hole in the State Budget is now $500 million deeper.

Gov. Gregoire proposed no general revenue for State Parks in her budget. The only option to preserve our cherished system of State Parks, which turned 98 years old last week, is a revenue package. However, a super majority of 66% in both the House and Senate must agree to raise taxes. The prospect for a tax increase by this legislature is nil.

So, the choice is stark … close more than 100 of our 119 State Parks or charge a user fee. Washington State Parks can only survive with help from their friends.

Sen. Kevin Ranker has been leading the efforts to fund State Parks through a $30.00 Discover Pass. The Discover Pass would allow the holder to access all State Parks, Fish & Wildlife and Dept. of Natural Resource lands for a full year. The pass is estimated to generate $71 million for outdoor recreation in Washington, with 84% going to State Parks. The cost for a single day pass would be $10.00 per vehicle.

Passage of the Discover Pass is not a certainty and a decision likely will come in the final days of the legislature. Already, competing interests are carving out exemptions and loopholes to weaken the impact upon Parks. The Discover Pass should be simple to understand, and not a mish-mash of differing fees.

I ask you to contact your senator and legislators and urge them to support the Discover Pass and to keep the bill simple. You can call the legislature at 1-800-562-6000 or send your senator or representative an email by visiting

As the WA State Parks Foundation prepares to celebrate the State Parks Centennial in 2013, I’m sure you can agree that the worst legacy for future generations would be to close 100 parks and privatize others. We cannot allow this to happen, and the time to act is now.

I also hope that you will consider supporting the Foundation. Please visit our website at to become one of the thousands of contributors to the Foundation’s efforts. Your support of $50, $100 or more will help us leave a legacy for future generations like the one our forefathers left us; the treasure that is the Washington State Parks system. Please help!


Sam Garst, Chair
Washington State Parks Foundation

Monday, March 28, 2011

A note about the Epistle: please share it!

Please share the Epistle!  

It's vitally important to get the word out that there are communities of faith that are affirming of lesbians, bisexual people, gay men, transgender people, and queer people.  

Please help spread that word.

If you are a Friend, please share FLGBTQC's Epistle with any Quaker groups with which you have a relationship -- your Monthly Meeting, Yearly Meeting, (Quarterly or Half-Yearly if they're active,) any Quaker email lists you're on, etc. 

If you're a member of another faith community, please feel free to share it there.  

Do you blog, or LiveJournal, or DreamWidth, etc?  Twitter?  Buzz?  If the Epistle spoke to you, please consider sharing it there. 

It's also been posted on Facebook; you can share it there. 

You can link to it directly from the page at FLGBTQC:

You can forward it from the posting on my blog (see the buttons at the end of the post). 

Thank you! 

An Epistle from Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns, Midwinter Gathering 2011

An Epistle from Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns

Midwinter Gathering 2011

To All Friends Everywhere,

We send you love from Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Concerns Midwinter Gathering, held from February 18-21st, 2011 in Browns Summit, North Carolina.

There was a time when we could not say our name. We dared not say our name -- even in the Religious Society of Friends. We were the Committee of Concern. This community has grown up around the concept of “radical inclusion” – the willingness to welcome new and different kinds of people into our community even when we had not expected them, recognizing the expansion of our understanding of who we are as a form of continuing revelation. Some of those who helped form this community continue to actively be a part of our community, for which we are blessed. Others have moved on. Still others have passed on. Yet all these Friends are still very much with us, standing in their own integrity, and calling us into our own.

We came together once again to witness to the power of radical love and radical inclusion to transform and sustain us spiritually – both individually and as a community and to discern how we are called to deepen our commitment to that call. Framed by our theme, “Reclaiming our Past; Proclaiming our Future,” we heard stories of what happens when we do this well. When we are faithful, we recognize that love is a practice, that in relationship we reveal and discover our true selves. We share the stories and truth emerging from our lives; when needed, we say to one another, “You’re standing on my foot! Please get off!” And then we talk about it. We experience the gifts of receiving and giving love that is shaped by the quirks and flavors of each of our individual essences; in so doing, we invite each other into wholeness, greater integrity, a fuller understanding of who we are as a community, and even greater integrity, and thus the cycle begins again.

As we shared our truths with one another in worship, Spirit revealed to and through us how wholeness, community, love, and integrity are intimately intertwined with each other. As one Friend said, “With Quakers, I cannot lie about who I am.” He spoke about how Friends from this community “kicked me out of the closet” – not through violence, but through holding him to a higher standard of integrity and by loving him for exactly who he is. Another Friend gazed into the eyes of each speaker on a panel of our elders, expressing how she could feel the flavor of each life moving through her, transforming her. A third urged that in an unsafe and sometimes hostile world, we must nevertheless go cheerfully where we are led, understanding that only as we bring our full selves forward can we make the world safer for those who will follow. A fourth speaker, an attender for whom this gathering was hir* first experience of Quakerism, spoke powerfully at the end of the gathering of how way had opened for hir* to be here, and a sense of how “I am supposed to be where I am right now. Life is overwhelming but I can do it.” Young and young adult Friends spoke deeply of the condition of a continuum of sexual and gender identities and the urgent necessity of a place of full and unconditional love and acceptance to call forth one’s true self. They spoke of the blessing of a safe space where they could be fully known, of the feeling that FLGBTQC was a place where there was no “card check,” where all were welcome, warts and all, where they could bring their whole selves forward.

We also know our own stories of the pain it inflicts when radical love and inclusion are absent – experienced within this community and others. We know that we have work to do to more faithfully practice radical love and inclusion with people of color and Young Adult Friends and Young Friends, and those who may yearn for but not be aware of or have access to our community.

We ask for the prayers of all Friends everywhere as we do our work, and we ask you, as way opens, to support us and join with us in our struggle. We offer you our unfolding witness and testimony to the power of radical love and inclusion in this community and an invitation to join in this experience at gatherings in the future. Co-clerks can be reached via telephone at 267-270-2315 or email at Our website is

On behalf of Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Concerns,

Deborah Fisch, Co-Clerk

Kody Hersh, Co-Clerk

* Many people who identify as neither men nor women prefer to be referred to by non-gendered pronouns, and this attender is among those people. The word "hir" in this case is grammatically equivalent to "her" as the possessive ("this is hir [item]") and object form ("I gave it to hir") but carries no connotation of a female or male gender.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Deaths of two elders: Margaret Hope Bacon and Merlin Stone

Beloved Quaker historian/herstorian Margaret Hope Bacon recently died.

I knew Margaret from the Meeting where I first came to Quakerism.  She was an amazing woman as well as a wonderful historian.  She also told women's untold herstories.

I believe every modern Goddess worshiper, Pagan, Witch, Feminist Witch, and feminist should read Mothers of Feminism... at least once. :)

Margaret's obituary in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Beloved (and controversial) elder, author, and scholar Merlin Stone also died recently.  When God Was a Woman still remains one of the most essentially thought-provoking books ever for many women when it comes to religion and spirituality.

They are both sorely missed; but so many give thanks for their long lives, well-lived.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

from CPT: "Walk the walk—CPT seeks applicants for Peacemaker Corps‏"

19 March 2011

*CPT INTERNATIONAL: Walk the walk—CPT seeks applicants for Peacemaker

CPT Announces Summer 2011 Peacemaker Corps Training in Chicago, IL USA, 15 July through 15 August 2011.  Applicants must have participated in a CPT delegation or equivalent CPT experience before June 2011.

Full-time, and part-time positions with stipends are available, especially for the Palestine project, to start as early as September 2011.

Please send your Peacemaker Corps application to the Chicago office by May 1, mailing address P.O. Box 6508; Chicago, IL USA 60680; or fax: +1-773-376-0549; or

CPT delegation and Peacemaker Corps Applications can be found online:
CPT delegation dates and locations can also be found online:

Notes from FLGBTQC Mid-Winter Gathering

notes from my Book of Shadows (spiritual notebook) from the 2011 Mid-Winter Gathering of Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns.  

As soon as our Epistle is available, I will post it here.  - sm 

Meeting for Worship Sunday

the idea that one "ought" to write, blog, etc., from love rather than from anger

--> anger springs from love, is a sign that something needs to change --> I would not be angry if i did not love

--> would not be angry on my own behalf if not for self-love; would not be angry on behalf of my Quaker communities if I did not love Quakerism or my Pagan communities if I did not love Paganism and if I did not love the Goddess (each other, this beautiful Earth)

writing about being at FLGBTQC Mid-Winter and my experience being here

--> what is it that is so wonderful about FLGBTQC?  it's hard to explain to people who haven't experienced it, or to someone who's come and who's maybe been put off by another who's rubbed them the wrong way

-- so far this weekend, we've talked quite a bit about this community as someplace where we feel known, with our imperfections, and loved
-- I certainly feel this way

-- worship

-- worship for business

(-- no "card check" at the door)

reminder from worship: community is one of the testimonies

large-group worship sharing

how we collectively hold the integrity and centeredness of our worship as something important

-- conversations I've had today with Friends about how theaological diversity, and sharing that with each other, is one of the gifts of FLGBTQC

--> these two things -- integrity and centeredness of Quaker worship, and theaological diversity -- are not in conflict; but rather, they complement and enrich each other

I am hearing: it is important to ask to be held in the Light on the list-serv

*post the intergenerational worship post on the blog --> radical inclusion

Singing the Goddess


Monday, March 21, 2011

Happy Eostara!

Happy Spring Equinox!

So here we are, on the balance point between Winter Solstice and Summer Solstice.  We are half-way between the longest night of the year and the longest day of the year -- between the day with the most hours of darkness and the day with the most hours of light; between the day with the fewest hours of light and the day with the fewest hours of darkness.  Between the shortest day and the shortest night. 

We're also halfway between Brigid, when the days first are really noticeably longer, and Beltane, when spring springs forth with great energy and abandon. 

I've lived most of my life in the Mid-Atlantic region of the US, but I lived for several years in other parts of the country -- the Midwest, the Pacific Northwest -- and I paid close attention to the progression of the seasons there, too.  Even in the Mid-Atlantic, just between the city where I grew up and the city where I've lived the longest, which are a scant 100 miles apart, there's a difference in how quickly spring comes. 

But everywhere I've lived, there's a noticeable difference right now.  Even my last year in Michigan, when it snowed on Spring Equinox (and then again at the end of March!), Spring was still very clearly on Her way. 

I've had eggs on my mind for the last week. 

And rabbits. 

And chocolate. 

And cardinals.  There's a mated pair in our neighborhood, and not only have they finally, finally discovered our bird feeder, they even sometimes come to it together.  This brings me happiness. 

There are crocuses in the communal lawn, and shoots poking their green heads up through the earth all over the place.  I've seen some snowdrops.  

Our neighbors' baby is no longer a newborn, but well into infancy. 

Driving to the Roses, Too! Spring Equinox potluck yesterday, I saw a few sheltered daffodils starting to bloom, and lots of forsythia blooming alongside the road. 

The temperatures were in the 70s F on Friday, in the 50s F over the weekend.  And thet will dip down to freezing overnight, with snow flurries possible. 

Yes, we are on the balance point. 

What signs in nature tell you we're on the balance point between Winter Solstice and Summer Solstice, between Brigid and Beltane? 

What's happening in your own spiritual life that reflects what's happening in nature?  

How are you still stuck in the cocoon or shell of winter?  

What environment are you emerging into?  

How are you transformed as you emerge from your shell or your cocoon into spring? 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

About Sarah's poem

I first heard Sarah Leuze's poem "In Wildness" read aloud at this year's Mid-Winter Gathering of Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns.  Read out loud in a powerful voice by someone who loved and loves her very much. 

It blew me away.  My breath caught.  Tears came to my eyes.  I knew right away this was the poem I'd been waiting for, for this year's on-line Brigid poetry festival. 

I'm grateful to Robert for permission to reprint it here.

p.s.  For a copy of Sarah Leuze: a collection of her poetry, fiction, and a memoir - with photos and biographical notes, please contact her estate, below.  

Poetry for Brigid: "In Wildness," Sarah Leuze

In Wildness

You do not have to suffer.
You do not have to mimic the great martyrs.
You do not even have to know who you are.
You only have to be happy in the wild beauty of the world;
You only have to love what you love, unfettered and unfurled.

Let the untamed call of the loons come to you from across the lake in the afternoon;
Hear the thrilling rush of wings overhead as the wild swans head home to the lagoon.
Let the rock dove coo to you softly each morning from its city perches;
Listen for the song sparrow's call each evening from the forest edges;
Let even the humble robin sing to you each day from the grass and hedges.

Whoever you are, no matter how insignificant, how despairing, know this:
In wildness is the resurrection of the soul, and the preservation of the earth.

February, 2009
Revised October 29, 2009

Copyright © by the Estate of Sarah Leuze, 2010. All rights reserved. Any correspondence should be addressed to Robert Leuze, Executor, Estate of Sarah Leuze, 245 West 104th Street, 16C, New York, NY 10025. Reprinted here with permission.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Radical love, radical inclusion... and the stereochemistry of gender inclusion

I know there's some renewed attention right now to the issue of cisgender-women-only space/the exclusion of transgender women in certain kinds of Paganism.

(Please note that I am not following, or interested in, that debate, and please don't ask me for information about it.)  

A number of people have spoken to me quietly about the issue -- because they're hurt or just plain puzzled by the fuss, or because they're trying to figure out their own complicated reactions to it.

I've also been trying to discern what, if anything, I should say publicly about this issue.

I realized I'm led to share a response I sent to one of those friends.  Part of why I'm comfortable sharing it is because it turns out there's nothing in this letter that I haven't said to other people, both electronically and in person, in public as well as in private.  

Apologies to my beloved former chemistry professors for the oversimplified explanation of stereochemistry. 

- sm

Dear [name],

Cis *isn't* being used because it's the opposite of trans -- it's a termed borrowed from chemistry [for one], and it's being used because it's a good descriptive term for people who were born into bodies consistent with their gender identities.

In chemistry, there are types of molecules with two different kinds of structures -- cis and trans. In one structure, the component groups are attached to *opposite* sides of a molecule across a (double) bond; that structure is called trans, or different. In the other structure, the component groups are attached to the *same* side of a molecule across a (double) bond; that structure is called cis, or same.

Take a look at the second set of pictures here to get the idea (the ones with the big green circles with no rotation):

You and I were born into bodies consistent with our gender identity -- the same, or cis; "the same" with our gender identity, or cisgender.

My friend [name/mutual acquaintance] was born into a body not consistent with her gender identity -- different, or trans; "different" from her gender identity, or transgender.

If you don't like the way it's being used by transgender women in the [blank] debate, then you're giving too much credence to the commenters there, IMO.

If you don't like how it's being used by transgender women in general, I'm sorry. That sounds difficult. It's often difficult to listen to people with less privilege when they confront us, and it's true: you and I have cis privilege.

But the term cisgender is *not* being used exclusively by transgender women, any more than the terms heterosexual, straight, white, temporarily able-bodied, upper class, or male are being used exclusively by lesbians, gay men, bi people, transgender people, disabled people, people of color, poor people, working class people, middle class people, or women.

You also need to understand that transgender women experience a terrible amount of misogyny, and that they get it both from men and from other women. I don't know about you, but I don't want to be another woman who behaves that way towards women who also happen to be transgender.

My own journey towards transgender inclusion has not, and still isn't always, an easy one. I've been part of a Quaker lesbian organization that was torn apart over the issue of including transgender women; I couldn't have told you then if I thought it was better to exclude or include transgender women. I have also been incredibly honored to get to know a number of transgender women and men in person, as real people, most but not all of them through a deeply Spirit-centered Quaker organization that walks its talk of radical love and radical inclusion. It has become very, very clear to me where I find the Goddess, and where She leads me, when it comes to this issue. I can be sure of that even when I'm not 100% comfortable; it's a very different kind of discomfort than when I'm not certain.

So I hope this helps some. 

Love and blessings,

Recommended article: T. Thorn Coyle's "Duality and Diversity: Gender at Pantheacon"

T. Thorn Coyle's "Duality and Diversity: Gender at Pantheacon"

The theme of gender at Pantheacon started for me on Friday afternoon, when I was able to catch most of Dr. Charlie Glickman's presentation on "The Mystery and the Masculine." I walked into a lively discussion about stereotypes, gender, and where we might find a place inside or outside of the box, and how breaking out of the box sometimes offers a full range of deep and powerful archetypes. Why was I drawn to this presentation? Not only do I like and respect Charlie, but I carry a great deal of the masculine within me; as a matter of fact, I used to get mistaken for a man with great frequency. I don't anymore, though most people still recognize that strand of my energy signature. I feel comfortable presenting in a more "female" way these days and my power is more fully integrated so my overall energy outlay is smoother. But you still won't catch me in a skirt unless I'm doing high femme drag. And that is rare.

I spoke in Charlie's class about Z Budapest saying last year that I was not a masculine woman, presumably because I wear lipstick now, and my jeans are no longer two sizes too big. No, I'm not butch like my butchest of friends, but the reason I identified as masculine at the first was in an attempt to do damage control around some masculinity bashing that had been going on. As I still swim strongly with that current, I outed myself on the panel and was then smacked down. Not for long, as you might imagine.


Friday, March 4, 2011

Friends Journal article on young families; other thoughts on accessibility

A F/friend of mine brought this excellent article to my attention a few weeks ago.  (I know I saw it when it first came out, but because of other things going on in my life that month, it didn't really sink in.)  Then, at FLGBTQC Mid-Winter recently, one of the many things we were talking about was how to make worship accessible to different people -- children, people with different neurological needs, etc. -- and I was reminded of it again.  

From "Young Families and Quakerism: Will the Center Hold?" (Friends Journal, May 2008):

[The project] found that those who joined Quakerism started attending at the average age of 34. The project summarized that our outreach efforts should focus on those in their 30s and 40s. Many of those who are drawn to unprogrammed Quakerism are looking for a "tribe" that gives them a sense of connection and belonging that resonates with their sense of who they are, and who they are becoming. (Many who take the quiz at <> are pleased to discover that there is already a well-established religious tradition that shares their convictions! Now, all they need to do is find a Friends meeting in their area. Thank goodness for <>!)

This yearning for authentic community shifts to an even deeper existential level when young adults find themselves becoming parents. As has been well documented, people often seek a religious community during the early years of parenthood, because of their bone-deep hopes and fears for their children. Having children tends to evoke in us a spiritual awakening, and a connection with the Source of life. We experience the Divine through our love for our children. Contemporary culture, with its wide array of anti-spiritual messages and experiences, has only exacerbated these deep yearnings. For Quakerism to be a spiritual home of choice for today's young adult seekers, then we must meet them where they are. That is, we must offer them a community that does not simply accept them and their children, but which pro-actively embraces them and nourishes them, personally and spiritually.

(Read more:

But this article isn't just about helping Meetings be more accessible to young families: it's also about nurturing our Meetings and helping them be vital, growing communities.

I'm excited, reading this, because the connections with and parallels to other kinds of accessibility are really clear to me.  And the tools are related, too.

The author and his family and I used to all be part of the same Meeting, before they moved and we moved.  In that Meeting, we used to have regular, intergenerational, semi-programmed Meeting for Worship.

While I was there, that worship never took place in the main Meeting room, and it never took the place of regular Meeting for Worship: therefore, it was optional.

There were a couple of issues with this.  It made it clear that our children were not full members of our community.  However, it also meant that no one who felt they couldn't in good conscience participate in programmed or semi-programmed worship was forced to do so. 

Sadly, when it came to our children, we didn't walk our talk as well as we might: several families I know left for other Meetings where they felt their children to be more fully part of the life of the Meeting.  This is not an option in many geographic areas, including some of the other places where I've lived. 

I confess that I am one of those people who's allergic to programming in Quaker worship.  For me, as soon as we introduce programming, we introduce dogma and theaology, and we are no longer in spiritual communion.  We have violated Meeting for Worship.  It's no longer safe worship space.  When that happens, I can visit, but I'm no longer home.  But I also felt really strongly, in that Meeting, about intergenerational Meeting for Worship, and I knew a full hour of unprogrammed worship just wasn't accessible to our children.  So I went to intergenerational semi-programmed Meeting for Worship.  (I itched, but I didn't break out in hives.)

Even though the connections with other kinds of accessibility are clear to me, they're not so clear to other people.

Here are some examples:

If it's okay for kids to wiggle quietly, read, write, or play quietly during worship...

...then it's okay for adults with neurological conditions to wiggle quietly, or engage in other quiet activities, during worship.   

If it's okay for kids to read Bible stories silently, or for adults to read from Christian or Hebrew scriptures silently...

,,,then it's okay for kids or adults to read from non-Christian books silently. 

If it's okay for kids to write quietly...

...then it's okay for adults to write quietly.

Those are just a few parallels that spring immediately to mind.  I'm sure there are others.

I'm reminded of two times in my life when handwork was the only thing that made Meeting for Worship accessible to me.

The first was when I was recovering from an injury and was in constant pain.  For months, I had a terrible time centering into worship.  Reading or writing was too cerebral -- it pulled me out of worship, into an intellectual head-space.  But finding a place in the back of the Meeting room where I could sit on the floor, stretch out the leg with the cast on it, and work on my crochet ministry -- the blanket I was making for a Friend whose husband had just died suddenly -- I could center into worship.  The second was during a flare-up of a neurological condition, when I was on a medication that made me sleepy unless I had direct sensory stimulation.  If I was driving, I was fine; as a passenger, I would fall asleep.  I found myself very sleepy in Meeting for Worship, no matter what time of day, no matter where -- the Meeting where I was sojourning, back at my home Meeting, at FGC Gathering, when traveling, it didn't matter.  I did not want to sleep through Meeting for Worship.  Again, reading or writing pulled me out of worship and put me into too intellectual a space, but crocheting allowed me to stay centered in worship when I started getting too sleepy. 

Coming back to Tom's article and the thoughts it's prompting for me, I also want to think more about how this kind of openness might work to help us embrace the theaological diversity among us -- and so help us deepen our Meetings in the Spirit and in their faithfulness to Quakerism. 

Here is something really important Tom points out in his article:

Learning to be accessible doesn't have to be comfortable at first in order to grow comfortable, or in order to provide huge rewards for a Meeting community. 

So, dear Friends -- shall we see how the Spirit is leading us to be uncomfortable together, and how how we are led to be transformed?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Query on grief and support

How do we bear witness to, and support each other through, griefs which society doesn't usually recognize or honor?

What are some examples of these kinds of grief?