Healing of memories and Reconciliation take place simultaneously. The first of such programs named as “Grieving Healing and Transformation” was held for 23 Family Members of the Disappeared from the 30th August to the 01st of September at Monte Fano – Ampitiya. Their evaluation taken after a month, validates that mourning and grieving has healed and transformed them. This first successful experience led to the second program of Healing of Memories and Reconciliation.
Venue being Ampitiya Parish Hall, from the 21st to the 22nd of October the remaining group of 11 Family Members of the Disappeared were prepared step by step for the process of Healing of Memories and Reconciliation. The primary step was the intensive training given to our group of Family Counselors on the Theory of Ambiguous Loss and the Process of Intervention to do counseling for each Family Member of the Disappeared. The day began by remembering the Memories the Missing Persons and healing through individual and group counseling by the Family Counselors. The Remembrance was further developed with a Religious Service, Meditation and Dharma Sermon by a Bhikshuni lasted till late evening. It was evident that the Spiritual Powers are a very meaningful and effective means, of Healing of Memories and Reconciliation.
At the dawn of the following day the survivors were on the ground doing walking and sitting meditation with the guidance of the Family Counselors...The input session on “How to live a happy life” conducted by a professional on mental health was very helpful to challenge them, and come to the realization that “their loved ones will not come back … and why to go on with grieving and mourning day after day and year after year… Hence hereafter we must live for our family and giving the best of ourselves for the next generation.”
Ceremonial delivery of testimonies was creatively adapted to befit the occasion, rich with meaningful signs and symbols. In the multi-religious gathering the Welcome Dance with lighted candles invoked blessings of Gods and Goddesses for this great occasion.
The Welcome of the 11 survivors, the Reading of the Testimonies and Encouragement were done to promote healing effect. Each testimony was summarized, touching the core sentiments of the survivors. As the Testimonies were read out the participants were one in mind, heart, body and spirit with them. After each Testimony each survivor lit a lamp remembering the Missing Person with a heartfelt wish for a better life, in the life circle of their loved ones. Remembering the missing story of each mother, brought back to the minds, the unique memories of other people all over the world who go through the same process of pain mourning and grieving.
The Testimonies were filled with mixed feelings and sentiments. As the Testimonies were read the whole place was vibrated with negative emotions, a meditation song on Loving kindness (Metha) with movements and dramatization raised the minds and the hearts of the participants in prayer of forgiveness for those perpetrators.
It was the day of the missing mothers. The 11 mothers waited for 22 years for this sacred moment in history where they could find a burial ground for their sons. So far they were still awaiting the return of their loved ones and their dear sons. Realizing that they would never come back and that they are among the dead the mothers placed a souvenir of their loved ones with some flowers and took part in the burial service. As they pay their last respect they wept bitterly. The tears were not only of grieving and mourning and of healing as well. A Buddhist monk celebrated Pensacola and a Dharma sermon, the catholic burial service was conducted by Fr. Nandana reminding them that their loved ones are in a better place while a Muslim priest prayed for the heavenly bliss of their souls.
Finally to express their oneness and solidarity they took part in the tea party specially prepared for them. The participants, the members of the support group, family counselors, friends and well wishers shared their affection and joy with the survivor group.
Human Rights Office Kandy, Torture in Sri Lanka, Disappearances in Sri Lanka, Healing and Counseling
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