Natural Awakenings Twin Cities October 2022
Featuring: Sustainable Sanctuaries, Conservative Dentistry and, The Joy of Movement
The evening air is crisp and clean followed by pleasantly warm daytime temperatures, making it official – fall is in the air.
I have always loved the coziness of autumn. As children, we would spend our weekends and after school helping our parents bring in the fall crops and clean out the garden beds. We heated our home with wood and the warm smell coming out of the chimney always made me smile. We would often come in after spending hours in the cold moist air, feeling the chill deep in our bones, to change into dry clothes and sit by the fire as we sipped hot cocoa and laughed at one of Dad’s silly stories. It made all our work worthwhile.
Nowadays, I do not often smell wood burning, but when someone stokes their fireplace and the neighborhood is enveloped in the smoky scent, it takes me right back to 1980. The comfort, peace and security I feel in those moments is only broken by the sudden sense of grief I feel knowing that I will never be able to call Mom or Dad to share the memories they created in my childhood. It has been over a decade since I lost my parents, and though the grief is no longer every day, it still shows up on a regular basis.
Prior to losing my parents, I extended my condolences to one of my parents’ friends who had recently lost his mother. This 70-year-old man who was easily six foot five inches tall and well over 300 pounds, was reduced to a small child as he shared with me how he was now an orphan. His mother passed in her 90s, and I remember feeling at the time what an odd comment that was. He was not a child, and he had to know that his elderly mother would not live forever.
Sadly, it wasn’t until I lost my own mother, three years after my father’s death, that I completely understood what he meant. I was lost. Alone. Scared. I worried about who I would live with if my husband and I got divorced, even though that was not even a conversation we were having after nearly 25 years of marriage. It was completely disorienting.
I wanted to get back to my old self. I wanted to get rid of the pain and be happy again. I tried all the things in my toolbox of self-development, but nothing worked. I sunk deeper into grief. One phrase kept coming back to me. “You have to feel it to heal it.” Eventually, I stopped resisting and allowed the feelings to come. All of them.
It is one of the most difficult things I have ever done, feeling all the emotions that I had been trying to tamp down. After many months, the “negative” emotions started to ease and a broader array of emotions came back to me. Now, 10 years later, I am so grateful for that time of grief. It has made me a more empathetic person, more understanding of others who are fearful, depressed, apathetic, angry and overwhelmed.
It has also made me keenly aware of our culture cries of “pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps”, “getting over it”, and “moving on” have damaged us as human beings. We are a country—a world even—of hurting people who are unknowingly inflicting our pain on others. Not honoring our grief, not allowing ourselves to feel it, means we can never truly heal it. Now more than ever we must be willing to step into the ugliness, healing our own injured souls, so we can make space for others to do the same.
I am not naïve and I will not try to convince you that everything will go back to how it once was, because we can never go back to the time before our losses. We are different now. Not better. Not worse. Just different.