I’ve come to understand that there is a form of good grief. As we witness the tragedy of the bushfires and count the losses, I am finding new ways to be with grief.
As Catherine Ingram, journalist, author and activist says in her influential essay, Facing Extinction “We grieve because we love. To the degree that your heart is shattered over loss, is precisely the degree to which you loved that which has gone.”
As we enter a new decade, 2020, there is a palpable “collective grief” – it is hard to have a conversation without the tragedy of the bushfires coming up. As a community we are being asked to “grow up, own up and show up” (words of my mentor) in support of ourselves, community, of Nature, of Mother Earth, and of change. What does that look like for those struggling with their own internal firestorms – trauma, ill health, pain – but not directly affected by the fires?
Everyday check in with your own internal climate before feet hit the ground running. What are the quality of your thoughts? What story/program are you running over and over?. Know that you can press pause, choose peace, choose calm. Breathe, drink water, give thanks.
Don’t be afraid of the depths of your grief, sorrow and despair. As Joanna Macy, climate facilitator and writer says, “It’s a natural response to suffering.” Meet your grief and find ways to hold it lightly whilst still functioning in the everyday world. If you feel moved to help, go here to find ways to transform overwhelm into action.
I can easily go into catastrophic thinking but know that’s not helpful for me or people around me. So I find ways of self soothing. I carry rose quartz in my pocket; it’s warm and comforting and assists me to release worry, fear and past emotional trauma. I use rose geranium essential oil on my heart to balance emotions and lift the spirit. Keeping up with movement, any movement is a great release and helps rest come easily.
Nourish with wholefood: good quality fat with non-starchy vegetables and small amounts of protein to support gut and mental health – avoid grains and sugars that just add to hormone/neurotransmitter imbalance and warming your internal climate (aka inflammation). Journal to release emotion onto the page. Find more joy and peace in everyday moments.. And if these simple approaches are not enough on their own, and you are needing more direct help, seek trauma counselling. (see Resources page for list of practitioners).
Blessings for the journey into 2020.
Is this what grief tastes like?
Metallic steel in my mouth.
A lump in my throat,
choking on the words.
Grief wears different clothes.
It’s control, one moment,
anger, sadness the next.
All the little children, the plants, the animals, my daughters.
I know it’s truth when the tears come.
How do I grieve while I am still learning to love?
Emotionally paralysed, anaesthetised.
I wasn’t taught how to grieve.
All I know of this feeling is to run for the hills
carrying this solid stone in my chest,
a pet rock that holds the density of despair.
When can I let it go?
Safe enough to find the moment it first entered my heart,
then return it to its rightful place?
Or do I have to carry this stone inside me forever?
I find the courage to bring it out to play.
It’s not so powerful in the light.
I share it with others.
Not “my” grief, just “the” grief.
And give it ridiculous, embarrassing amounts of love.
I wear it lightly, laugh with it..
Dance until it shatters into so many sharp imperfect pieces,
turning over and over until smooth in the palm of my hand
like a gem.
I found it in my pocket the other day.
And I recognised it like an old friend.