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Edith Sauerbier portrait

Edith Sauerbier

Intellectual, Theologian, Humorist, Midwife for the End of Life
Speaks English, German
Certified Trainer since 2006
"I want to put my energy not against something, but for something."

Edith Sauerbier is an intellectual and theologian who works to help people connect, sometimes across tough circumstances, such as war. She is internationally active, sharing Nonviolent Communication with individuals and groups across Europe. Among her passions, she helps guide people through end-of-life transitions. In addition to her work as a certified NVC trainer, she also serves as an NVC assessor; in her role as assessor, she helped co-create a collaborative model that revolutionized how NVC trainers are certified. 

Resisting “Enemy Pictures” in Wartime

For Edith and her assessor team it is important to support NVC in countries which are in difficult situations, like Bosnia, Ukraine, Ruanda, Kenya, and more. In spring 2022, she was involved in online sessions between Russian and Ukrainian people. It broke her heart to learn that some students, whom she met personally, are now living in war situations. In one of the sessions, enemy pictures were the topic and how to resist them. To that, Edith offered tools of self-care, saying, “Let me show them to you, and we’ll make some practices, so that you can take them in your toolbox even in difficult situations.” 

A Teacher of Teachers

Today, Edith works together with a team of trainers as an assessor — a trainer of trainers — among a group trained by NVC founder Marshall B. Rosenberg in 2008; Marshall encouraged their group to create new ways of certification to guarantee that the core of NVC is transmitted to the next generations of trainers. Since they began working together, their team has guided seventy-five trainers from about fifteen countries into certification, forty from German-speaking regions (as of December 2022). Before Edith, Doris Schwabm, and Rita Geimer-Schererz (who passed away in 2020) began using this group model training model, it did not exist. In 2016, Irmtraud Kauschat joined the team.

“The three of us developed the concept of working in teams together,” she recollects. “And to offer Mentoring and Assessment Days for candidates, and make group assessments — not in private sessions, like we experienced. We wanted to create something new that expresses more what we teach, what we share, what we like to spread into the world. And so we looked for a form that was more appropriate for the content and considered the regional NVC community.”

Edith gives a little laugh at the memory. They were, after all, pioneering this group method and working with candidates, “without knowing if Marshall would agree to our way or accept our recommendations.”

Learning NVC, from “No” to “An Opener”

So we can fully appreciate the dynamism of the above unfolding scenario, Edith takes us back in time, to the late 1980s and her first encounter with Nonviolent Communication. Some friends, she recalls, were in one of the first NVC practice groups in Germany, and she knew the trainer they were working with. 

Edith encountered the trainer again in 1993. “She was working in a peace camp in the former Yugoslavia, when there was war, and I was working in an education home, and I was looking for someone who was reporting from there in an interreligious conference I was working with.” They got talking, and the trainer asked Edith about starting up with NVC. 

“And I told her, ‘Oh no, Beate.’” Edith laughs. “Her name was Beate Ronnefeldt. And I told her, ‘Oh no. I studied theology and I had to learn so many languages, like Latin, Hebrew, and Greek. I do not want to learn another language, even if it's called ‘nonviolent’.” 

It would take another decade, and a face-to-face encounter with Marshall Rosenberg, to bring Edith fully into NVC. 

In 2002, she was training to be a mediator in the north of Germany. “And part of this education was to work with Marshall Rosenberg. He was there.” She pauses, allowing the recollection to settle. “When I looked for the first time into the eyes of Marshall Rosenberg, I was deeply convinced that we knew each other from other times.” Edith calls this encounter “an opener.” 

“Because I felt, after having a lot of resistance to dealing with feelings and needs — I felt at home.” At last, she embraced NVC, and set upon the path to becoming a trainer. 

“Really Hot Stuff”

In January 2010, with a Mentoring and Assessment Days gathering underway, the team still didn’t know if their new assessment model would pass muster with the movement’s leader. “And we were already working with ten candidates,” Edith says with a chuckle. Then, she says, “we got an email from Marshall, Margo Pair (administrative director of CNVC), and Valentina, Marshall’s wife, that our concept is okay, and that they would agree to our recommendations.”

From this auspicious beginning, assessors “all over the world” adopted the group model and made it their own version. “So this was really hot stuff,” Edith says, beaming. “And yeah, we were really pioneers.”

A Midwife for the End of Life

To Edith, death is not an ending, but a journey “to another land, to another space.” Guided by this core belief, she brings Nonviolent Communication into her hospice and funeral work, where it’s her honor to accompany people and their families in “a certain state of their life, to support and be of service,” and “to stay with them, to have compassion and empathy.”

To this purpose, she sees herself as a “kind of midwife, not at the beginning of life, but at the end of life, of human life, of an experience that we call human life as spiritual beings.”

Of her work as a funeral speaker, especially in challenging situations, she pauses and considers. “When I conduct a funeral for a person who committed suicide, and could be my daughter or my son, this is really really challenging, because I meet the family, the parents who need to deal with it,” she says. “And yet, I do not fear these situations because they belong to life. And NVC gives me the language for it.”

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  • Conflict Resolution
  • Counseling & Coaching
  • Education
  • Mind-Body-Spirit
  • Parenting & Family
  • Social Change
One of the very, very basic tools you need to have in NVC is a sense of humor. This is one of my tools to survive.

Contact Edith Sauerbier