It may seem strange to follow an Earth Day celebration with an essay on grief, so let me explain...
As my husband waited for hours in the ER to be admitted for an arm infection last Thursday (Earth Day), he watched show after show about the desperate situation our planet is in and became understandably grief-stricken.
It IS a depressing topic, especially because it's hard for us as individuals to see a clear path to solving it. That helplessness and grief could send us into a tailspin that would produce lethargy - Why bother? After all, what can one person do?
The issues of the environment are only one example of the profound sadness that we're all feeling about the changes in our world in general. On top of that are the many of us who have been affected by loved ones dying in the last year, and not necessarily from Covid. People are just leaving.
The overwhelming sense of loss upon loss could easily carry us underwater - unless, of course, we find ourselves a surfboard.
I'm sharing just two things about dealing with grief that I've learned along the way, in case it's at all helpful for those of you.
1. What did/does this relationship mean to me?
Perhaps the person who has passed had a significant role in your life as someone who reflected back to you how worthy of love you are, and you can't imagine living without that.
It's a hard lesson, but I've found that the role of spiritual evolution is to relentlessly urge us to increase our inner strength, often preceded by cutting us off from those upon whom we have depended for reflection. Through the loss, we are being asked to emerge as free-standing beacons of light, who don't require others to provide our sense of self. Instead, we need to hone our own inner knowledge until we become independent, self-loving people in service to the greater good. Does this mean we don't still miss the person? No, but our healing begins when we realize what our journey is about.
In the case of the planet, you might feel that your opportunity for relationship with the earth is slipping away for good, but nothing could be further from the truth. The earth is very much alive and available, and it is never too late to engage with her. If you have any doubts, please listen to the Earth Day Meditation that came through on Thursday.
2. How do I process my grief?
The first answer is to ALLOW it. Ride the surfboard, letting it rock and roll you - don't hold back. Play meaningful songs, look at pictures, talk to mutual acquaintances and just let it all flow through you. The more you do this, the sooner your heart will begin to lighten.
Remembering that every wave has its uncontrollable ups and downs, just be as easy on yourself as possible on the journey while the loss finds its way. You can think of this ride as a spiral that helps to move the sadness up and out...
Secondly, the main cause of entrenched grief is guilt. All the things we could have said and done differently, or ways in which we didn't give enough, creates a block which forces the grief to stagnantly recycle instead of spiraling upwards.
The solution for guilt is forgiveness. Initially, forgiveness of oneself, which involves recognizing the need for new behaviors so it doesn't happen that way again. Next, forgiveness of the departed person, for whatever they left undone in regards to you. Forgiveness is a sacred and deeply meaningful act, in my opinion, and requires both humility and courage. (I've written about this in greater depth in previous posts.)
I've found the Infinity Wave to be immensely useful in all these cases, for it delivers love and compassion without effort, and allows the Wave itself to wash away whatever is no longer needed.
Processing grief for the planet is understandable given the huge amount of data that tells us how we, humankind, have harmed her. I want to remind you that though this may be true, it's also true that the entire solar system is heating up, not just our planet. As I've written before, we are entering a region of space that is warmer and we don't know exactly what this will mean for us.
Still, we can do our part - melancholy about Earth will not help her, but what will is to step up our personal involvement. Each of us can contribute in some way, even if it means walking around picking up trash or planting indigenous plants that the pollinators love. We can all do something, with love in our hearts, knowing that Gaia feels us and is grateful for the interaction.
Just yesterday I read a story about a man who's "adopted" 22 dirt squares on the streets of NYC that were loaded with trash and debris. He got tired of waiting for someone to do something about them and just started one day to clean them up and plant shrubs and flowers instead. His message is, one person can make a difference.
The last thing I'll say about grief is it's common to feel alone in it. I'm here to tell you that
you're not - we're all in the soup together.
I lost a dear soul this week and the act of coming together in meditation for the earth was immensely helpful to my heart. I encourage you to drop into any of our Monday Meditations for whatever might be ailing you - we'll welcome you with open virtual arms!