Grief Needs Witness, Grief Needs Nature

Photography by Guu

Photography by Guu

Grief Needs Witness, Grief Needs Nature by Michelle Katz

The last two weeks I held such deep sorrow and grief.

The first few days, I found the desire to remain stoic in my enduring of it, knowing it as a familiar companion that can take a hold of me.  In my alone moments, I wouldn’t quiet let it in, and I found work to distract me from it.

But it was in the witnessing that I could no longer hide what was so truly inside me.  Once I sat in place to be seen and heard by others, my stoicism released.  It was what was needed, as it led me beyond my ego and it instantly became ceremony.  The grief was wild, it came alive, in the witnessing: in class, at the yoga studio, in the arms of my friend, in the company of a friend on the other side of the phone waves.  No words exchanged.  None needed.  I just wailed with tears of grief, and cries of anger.  And it did not stop, it continued on in waves. In feeling the presence of a person who was truly with me, I released all of who I think I am, and allowed what I keep in the shadow to arise.  Seen in my mess, in my rolling on the floor, in my curling up in ball, in the running nose and puffy eyes, in the yelling, screaming, throwing of things, in the scrunched up red face that could not contain the depths of this, despite it’s feeble attempts, in the primal eruptions that echoed on earth and was an echo of earth within me.

Francis Weller speaks on the need for communally honoring of the living in the ritual of grief, with grief as a way of deepening into relationship with soul. He speaks of gathering together, to hear each other mourn, weep, wail and cry our in pain, all in order for healing to begin.  In the recognizing of grief in ourselves and other, we see all of humanity and the earth.  For in grief, comes parts of ourselves we often believe cannot be loved: our anger, our sensitivity, our power, our depression, anxiety or addition, in grief it all arise to be seen and loved.  We call to attention something big and important within us that needs awareness, that needs witness so that we find healing, into our humanity.  We live into the unlived life. 

Grief drops us down to the earth, to the dark soil, reminding us of our inevitable return to the earth.  It shakes the foundations we stand on, leaving us no choice but to fall, fall to the earth, be close to the thing that knows dying well, that know of the coming and going of all living beings.

After my community witnessed me, the earth held me.  First on my back, wind taken out of me, clouds passing, change forms, evaporating.  Birds flying passed.  Insects landing and absorbing what they have taken from my flesh.  Then on my side, curled up, drawing circles and boxes in the sand. Each spec of sand, seen clearly, as a microcosm, of each human in grief on this earth.   Feeling particles fall off my skin in their time.  Then on my belly, with heart and womb to the earth.  I am beating into earth, earth beating into me.  Grief brings one back to the pace of the earth.  We can slow way down, in time, body, thoughts.

We so often loose connection to nature and our own human nature when we move through our day-to-day lives.  Grief gives us no choice but to return to nature.  And once we do, we come to not only grief the loss that brought us here, but the loss of this connection we have been missing and too easily forget.   There is no greater witness than the earth in these times of sorrow.  She accepts without any expectation, she acknowledges and offers needed reflection.

In grief we know what matters, we know of deep loving, our own worthiness of being on this earth and our authentic humanity.  In grief we are welcomed into the depth of living by learning of dying.  Grief teachers us  how to meet death, each one shows us how to die and with each turn of this meeting, how to die better than the last time.  How we meet these ends reveal our meeting of passages, our rite to what is next (in all it's unknowns), our rite to this human experience.  We cannot do this without grieving.

People use to ask me or comment about my big smile , how am I always happy?  I replied: my sorrow is equally as big.  For those of you who know these two sides of me well, thank you for baring witness to all of me.  And for those of you who do not yet know these sides of me and these side of yourself, I invite you to take a seat at the table, and let’s get real together.  For our grief, in experiencing all the deaths we experience in our lives, will move us, if we choose to meet it in our fullness.  I'll witness you, if you witness me in our human nature.

Be witnessed and with earth in all the deaths of life with Oaks Counsel.