A Million Paper Cranes

As a helping professional, one of the things I have struggled with is the inadequacy of “self care.” The usual suggestions to take a bath or have a cup of tea seem ill equipped to take on the gravity of a week’s worth of suffering. Not to mention that the weeks continue to pile on top of each other and self care is easy to relegate to the bottom of the to do list. This week I was inspired to try something new in the self care realm, something that begins to acknowledge the effects of grief.

When I was a child I read Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr. I remembered the story about a young girl who coped with leukemia caused by the atomic bomb by folding paper cranes. I thought, “If paper cranes could help Sadako and millions of people who heard her story, what if paper cranes could hold some of our grief as helping professionals?” So on a rainy Sunday, I re-learned the art of folding an origami crane to commemorate the lives of my loved ones and to bear witness to the suffering of past clients.

Keep your grief sacred inside the belly of the crane.

Whether you are a helping professional or someone for whom grief plays a big role in your life right now, you might consider creating a paper crane ritual for yourself. To make a paper crane, all you need is a square piece of paper. Before you begin folding, write a message to your loved one or client to be folded into the center of the crane. (If you have origami paper, this will be the white side.) The message can be a prayer, a memory, a gratitude, or any other message you wish to be acknowledged or held sacred.

This video will take you step by step through the folding process:

Why paper cranes?

  • The act of folding is meditative, especially once you learn the steps.

  • The act of folding is a way to give a few minutes of your time, a precious commodity, to remember someone or bear witness to someone’s pain.

  • As helping professionals, we have a duty to maintain confidentiality. Folding a message into a crane honors that sacred space and removes the burden from our care.

  • Folding a paper crane transforms a piece of paper into something beautiful. It is a visual representation of your love and attention for someone else’s life.

I made a list of all the moments of grief I had experienced. I realized that many of these moments had never been acknowledged as grief and I have been carrying them around with me. I made a list of people in my life who have crossed over, a list of people who are still living but no longer part of my life, a list of lost pets. I also began to make a list of all the trauma and suffering I have witnessed for clients, friends, and family. It became clear that grief has impacted my life in ways I had not fully understood until now.

I begin folding to honor lost lives and dreams and to honor myself. When I hang the paper cranes I will remember that grief is a beautiful part of life.

Please share, ask questions, leave comments, suggest topics, and tell stories! I want to hear about your moments of magic, miracles, and synchronicity.

Dare to be immortal.


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