Tree with Tulips at the base

Crying with Trees, Naming my Grief

Tree with Tulips at the baseI broke open yesterday with a tree. 

I learned that the construction project in our neighborhood will begin in 2 weeks. 

That’s the day that this long standing tree will die to create a road.

Hearing this news was the final thing I could hold, so I broke down and cried.

I cried with the tree, I cried in front of the neighborhood kids. I named my grief and why I was so sad. I invited them to create an altar with me at the tree’s base with leaves, flowers, rocks and twigs to honor and say goodbye.

With beauty and movement and gathering with others, I began to feel better.

Yet, my tears were holding much more than the grief for the tree and the future loss of our little peaceful community. Yes, I’m full of so much grief.

Our life as we knew it 5 months ago is gone and we don’t know what our new life will look like yet. I’m referring to the pandemic. So globally we’re in an odd liminal stage; caught in some kind of weird cocoon goo that isn’t comfortable yet. 

And I don’t think it’s gonna get much easier anytime soon. Remember those sweater pants from my last blog? Well, we’re gonna be wearing those for a bit longer. 

We’re also living through a historical revolution ignited by the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis a few weeks ago. I am deeply impacted by this.

So I’m full and I wonder if you are too. Please respond back and let me know, I love hearing from you, especially now in these isolated, chaotic yet also hopeful times.

I saw a meme a few weeks ago that spoke to me: “You are living through a pandemic AND a historical revolution – please don’t beat yourself up if your mental health isn’t the best right now.” Thanks @tanykarenee.

So yes, I’ve felt collapsed with sadness, confusion, and disbelief. I’ve felt full of rage and anger. And I’ve felt a numbness that has no words. 

I’ve written many drafts of this June newsletter because I was unsure how to put words to what I’ve been feeling and experiencing. 

We are living in unprecedented times and have so much grief to process.

So for now I’ll simply share with you what is helping me in hopes that it may help you…

I’m researching the intersection of grief with anti-racism work. And I need more help with this, so I’ve sought out a mentor who has more expertise. If you know of resources or helpful people, send them my way.

I am not going back to sleep in the comfort of my white advantage. (I learned recently from Resmaa Menakem to use the word advantage vs. privilege). That makes more sense. 

So, I’ve asked a few white friends to help me stay awake and keep me accountable. 

There are so many books I’d love to read and dive into regarding social justice and anti-racism work. But for my own sanity and ability to fully take it in, I’m choosing to start with one.

I’m starting with Resmaa Menakem’s book on healing racialized trauma called My Grandmother’s Hands because he says that this trauma lives in our bodies-racism is wired into our nervous systems. https://www.resmaa.com/about

This is why I cannot put words yet onto what I’m experiencing – the trauma from the past 400 years lives in my body and it feels like grief.

I also joined a year long study group to support my learning with his book. See link:  https://www.rootedandembodied.com/  The group began on Saturday June 20th and it was so good.

I’m connecting more with my own ancestors and doing my ancestral work. The grief I feel regarding racism isn’t only mine, it’s been passed down for I don’t know how many years. I recently took a course from Daniel Foor and will be signing up for his other offering soon. https://ancestralmedicine.org/

I’m attending online grief rituals and I continue to offer grief rituals online twice a month. (See June Zoom grief ritual link below). 

I’m donating money to support BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities and I’m taking BIPOC centered classes. I took a class from Sabia Wade about nervous system regulation, she’s offering another in the fall. https://theblackdoula.com/nexus

I’m pissed so I am getting more political. I already voted. (I always vote).

And I’m titrating and pendulating both my inner and outer experiences—my emotions and the news/social media, etc.

I’m having intense conversations about race with my neighbors and friends.

I’m aware that I need to take more breaks. I just scheduled a week off in early July and already I notice my nervous system relaxing.

I seek joy and try to remain hopeful.

I’m immersing myself in nature daily. I walk up “prayer mountain” and pray out loud and make up songs.

I try to get enough rest and I take epsom salt baths.

I play with my cat.

And I cry with trees and name my grief.

So, it comes back to the simple practices— creating beauty, moving and gathering with others to keep my personal and collective grief flowing. 

And speaking of gathering —the next online grief ritual offering is on June 27th. See Link here: https://www.swatijrjyotish.com/upcoming-classes.html I am collaborating with a dear friend and fellow “Grief Freak” Swati. She’s a Dharma coach and does amazing work including grief work. 

This grief ritual practice is donation based and all funds will be given to my grief mentor’s village in Africa to build a well. They’ve raised $14,000 so far and now are wanting to add solar panels, a cistern and a garden. They hope to raise $25,000 by August. 

More than ever we need radical self care as we settle in to this new normal.  

We must tend to our grief for the sake of our future generations.

And please reach out if you need me. I am here for you.

 Beth Erlander aka The Grief Freak

These are intense times, we need to have more compassion and kindness to ourselves, each other, and the planet.  I hope you are well. And remember to grieve well, so we can be well.

Click here to join my Grief Freak Peeps.