Neil Beresin never set out to become a chaplain. In fact, he worked in the nonprofit world for 20 years. But everything changed for him when both his parents became ill and passed away within 5 weeks of each other. This devastating loss changed the trajectory of his life. Neil is now a chaplain and counselor specializing in grief, loss, and transition, and he uses poetry in his healing work.
During our interview with him, Neil shares how poetry has brought him peace and understanding even in the most troubling times. He shares with us the value of reflection. When you slow down and allow yourself to absorb the words of a poem, you are giving yourself a gift. Reflecting on the language and the metaphors used in poetry can bring tremendous comfort. The sound and music of poetry has helped Neil to provide intentional grief support to his clients, and we hope this interview helps you as well.
- Read Neil's article “A Chaplain’s Notebook: Poetry as Spiritual Nourishment” in the the Journal of Pastoral Care & Counseling (March of 2020).
Poems & books mentioned in this episode:
- “Rain” by Peter Everwine
- “Let’s Remake the World with Words” by Gregory Orr
- “Trees” by Howard Nemerov
- “Invocation” by Jeanne Lohmann
- The Wild Edge of Sorrow by Frances Weller
Their work lends itself to being used with clients to facilitate opening, and a sacred space for peacefulness, intimacy, and compassion.
- Lucille Clifton
- Gwendolyn Brooks
- Mary Oliver
- Dereck Walcott
- Billy Collins
- Linda Hogan
- David Wagoner
- Jane Kenyon
- Mary Karr
- Pádraig Ó Tauma
- Kay Ryan
- Naomi Shahab Nye
- Rainer Maria Rilke
- David Whyte
About Neil Beresin
Neil is a counselor and interfaith chaplain who specializes in grief, loss, and transition. His clients are often experiencing overwhelming heartache: on the tailwinds of divorce, the death of someone dear, or, from a life-altering struggle. Neil provides deep listening and reverent attentiveness, and helps individuals reflect on and reshape their loss in a safe, sacred, meditative space. He may use poetry to provide additional comfort, deepen the space, and encourage reflection and opening. Neil moved into chaplaincy work as an encore pathway following the death of my parents five weeks apart in 2014. The experience of caring for and companioning them in their final nine months of life was profound and life-changing. Neil’s article, “A Chaplain’s Notebook: Poetry as Spiritual Nourishment” was published by the Journal of Pastoral Care & Counseling in March of 2020.