What I Do
I listen.I stay quiet. I listen more. I nod. By this time you know I know, and I understand, because I have been there. We can be talking about your story, your grief, your shock, your trauma.
No one listens. No one wants to listen to your story. Or, if they do, they quickly burn out. They mean well, but as we all know, we all have our limits. We can only take so much. With respect, I have to say a professional is only there for the required hours. Again, with respect, unless they have been there, they do not know what "it" feels like. We do. That is why, I can listen to your story. I won't offer platitudes so often heard in our society. If I do not know the answer, I will tell you. I will not be creative. But, I'll try find the answer for you. How? We work closely together. As long as you meet me half-way, we can complete the moment, the day, or some of the journey.
I have been giving workshops seemingly forever, and more so with one on one consultations. Read my story below. Mine and mine alone. This is how I arrived as an author, PTSD facilitator, an endangered language authority, and finally, to a club, no one should ever be a member of - parents who have buried their children - an indigenous or Nishinaabe grief authority. Nice to have you visit. Come on back anytime.
I lost my firstborn to a fatal snowmobile accident. His name was Mosho, Pakane, Shannon Kenneth Cecil Meawasige of the Serpent River First Nation Ontario. I loved my boy.
I went on to tell my story about my relationship with him in a culturally seminal book, “When My Son Died.”
Grief is grief. Cultural grief is another spoke on the medicine wheel of life. Not only is the content of our book educational and healing, it opens doors to grief and trauma reflection and expression. It says it’s okay to express grief and the turbulent emotions attached to bereavement.
Grief storytelling is hardly ever the same. Each one is unique. Each is exclusive. Each voice is inclusive by the very sharing of an experience in a society that is not eager to share. Society teaches to hold in or at worst, ‘get over it.’ As Nishinaabe, we help educate, inform, support, and share tears and hugs and the stories ground that commonality all too familiar in Nishinaabe communities.
Not only does I (Kenn) share his story but his greatest achievement is to hold and help the grief-stricken. There are many ways of healing from grief; Kenn offers his help by listening and applying a lifetime of Nishinaabe language and culture. His second memory in life is holding his grandfather's hand as he walked up the dim knoll for a wake. And it has never stopped.
Kenn offers to read and listen. He will also work with the community participant to freely express his pain, free from judgment. Safety is paramount in the circle or group.
“When My Son Died” is a raw story of pain and introspection applicable in any culture, or literature, whether it’s grief specific or multi-disciplinary. The story describes the cultural; milieu and how Kenn and Mosho arrived to tell their stories. It’s a tale of love, remembrance, and perhaps, a cultural tool.
Kenn is versed in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, multi-general grief, trauma, and can speak in his home language, Nishinaabe, of which he is comfortable, and is able to share the nuance of language in Nishinaabe grief. Kenn can also speak in academe. But Kenn finds common everyday language is best when sobbing with one's story.
Will you not invite Kenn to come to your community and share his book readings and recovery stories? Kenn is available to hold one’s hand or to help anyone express their story in any medium.
The sole purpose of Kenn Pitawanakwat is to heal and help others in their healing path. One more day to wait for health and a smile is too much. Invite Kenn to come and listen. Invite Kenn to share his story. Maybe, Kenn helps the traumatized and grief-paralyzed.
Indigenous Grief Workshops
Odawa/Pottawatomi Language Discussions