From Grief to Gratitude

I'd like to share an excerpt from my sit spot journal with you.

This entry was from the month of July, and I had moved from the Maritimes to Ontario (I'm back in New Brunswick now!) and had been stricken with strong feelings of loss and grief (for a human, for our planet...) and was especially struggling with finding a place in the woods where I felt supported.

I hope you'll see that even when we feel disconnected, allowing that to be a part of the human experience can be a powerful healer.

It has been incredibly hot (the hottest we've seen in Canada), the LDD moth (formerly gypsy moth) infestation has defoliated a huge population of the trees in Southern Ontario, and a close friend’s mother passed away suddenly and tragically. Death is the theme that is playing heavily in my life this past month. The ancient (300+ years) red oak tree I sat under only weeks before, fully shaded from the hot sun, is now completely defoliated. I sat in front of it and just cried. I know logically the leaves will grow back, but in that moment, I just felt “death as the end” and not “death as the beginning”. I felt severe permanence in it. It was sweltering as I sat, but just chose to sit, looking, weeping with this tree. My walks in the woods stir up so many thoughts about loss, climate crisis, about the forest fires and the lack of rain in the west, about my friend’s mother. Usually going into nature when I feel sad or broken helps to heal my head and heart, but this month was the opposite. It didn’t help but instead amplified everything, making things feel worse. I had a very hard time seeing the beauty in my surroundings and instead, just felt heartbroken for the plants and the animals. I felt helpless, seeing the big oak, naked and empty, as if it were winter in the middle of the summer. If a bird sang or if I saw a squirrel scamper about, it brought me to tears. The feeling of guilt for taking from nature and not giving enough in return was very strong. This month, with the lesson of Death, I felt closed off to idea that we are merely a part of the life cycle. Instead, I felt on despair, endings, permanence, fragility, failure, grief, sadness, loneliness, and emptiness. I could not see the past the veil. That in the moment of birth, death is inevitable. And that in all death, new life begins. But I just did not feel alive in much, even though life around me was still living, still existing, still playing out their processes and systems. As the month went on, I began to reemerge and to remember that "all things go" (even planets), and that we must honour the time that is given to us; to find the sacred in everything. And finally pushing through the veil, from grief to gratitude even when faced with devastation on a global level, we choose to become a catalyst for positive change, no matter how small it feels in the moment.