Valuing Our Loss

IMG_2747          The Season of Fall is upon us. This is the season of letting go, of loss. Encoded within this passage is the core emotion of Grief. As one of the most difficult journeys to confront and traverse, the precious gifts we receive in Fall come at a great cost. To fully integrate the lessons found here we must give our loss its due with honor and respect.
     Currently I am with my mother as she prepares for her last days on this earth. I’m grateful for the wisdom of the seasons during this time. Though Mom has been ill for some time, the grieving is still keen. Together with my family, we are supporting her as best we can through days filled with many unknowns. Though the lovely and precious support from family and friends has buoyed us all, it does not lessen the sharp pain of our loss.
     Loss and letting go are essential hallmarks of Fall. In the natural world, the deep losses at the end of the harvest are necessary to sustain life through the dark, cold winter and into the coming spring. It is a passage that cannot be hurried.
Pitcher border
     Our world often seems awash with loss. Grief, the core emotion of Fall cannot be managed or controlled. It cannot be rushed, pushed, or denied without consequence. It will have its way with us, like it or not. Without a sufficient container for expression for this powerful emotion, we can be plunged into deep despair, overwhelmed by hopelessness. Left unresolved, our grief can eventually erupts as rage and depression.
In a recent newsletter from Wise Woman Toko-pa I found these sage words about loss and grief…
“(W)hen I begin to feel despair about the insufficiency of our efforts, I remember that despair is what happens to us when we can’t grieve properly. It’s the grief that has no welcoming container, no place to express itself.
“I think we need to have more conversations in our families and communities about this threshold we’re on together.
“There is a driving force in us which wants to step in and make something useful of it all, turn it into fuel for transformation! But another, quieter voice says says stop. Don’t commodify this loss. Don’t be so hasty to write a new story, in which the events of heartbreak are made meaningful, before the magnitude of what’s been destroyed can be witnessed in its entirety.
“Yes, there will be a new world forming from the rubble. Yes, there is something valuable to take from this, I’m sure. But please, let us not turn this heartbreak into something useful just yet. If we do, we will be tempted to walk in our old ways. We will rely on tired words. We will make memes of ourselves.
“Is there a way instead to really bear witness? To let the fog of uncertainty obscure our clarity. To not know where or how we’ll live. To be fumbling and full of grief, because what we always counted on has been struck from our horizon. We may never be so magnificent again….
“(L)et us turn towards to the unknown in the hopes that we find there help us to learn how to walk in a new way, for a new world.”
     In the chapter on Fall in my upcoming book, Soul of the Seasons, I write of the arduous journey through this challenging season. Though the sharp sword of grief pierces our hearts, with patience and a willingness to become vulnerable to our losses, we can once again experience new life.
     “Though it may be impossible to comprehend it when our loss is so fresh, encoded within our grief lays an emotional paradox; that to fully honor and respect what we have lost—to confess just how precious our loss has been to us—is to memorialize our bereavement with a grace and dignity that allows us to start anew.” –from Soul of the Seasons.
Contemplation on Fall:
How do you feel about the season of fall?
What is your experience with grief?
What do you resist letting go of?
How do you honor and respect your losses?
Many Blessings,