We live in a culture that has forgotten how to grieve.
And yet grief is such an essential part of human life. The practice of grieving is what will enable us to continue to live fully after we’ve suffered a great loss. The medicine of grief, when fully experienced, is what allows us to ultimately heal and to continue our Earth walk with our spirits intact.
Without grieving, parts of us can get stuck.
Just as we each carry grief that is unique to our own lives and circumstances, we also hold collective grief. We grieve over large things, such as the loss of a loved one, as well over more subtle and silent things—the end of an era, or the death of a part of ourselves.
We are also experiencing a new kind of grief as we live through the Anthropocene and watch the world around us wane in many ways. More and more species are vanishing from our planet by the day. The once intact landscapes we’ve depended upon and been in relationship with for millennia are fast disappearing. This grief is perhaps the greatest of all, and it is ours to learn to live with.
Grief rituals are at once deeply
personal and totally universal.
While each culture has rituals specific to the people and place to whom they belong, there are many common threads which bind them together and express something essential to our humanity. I encourage you to discover and explore how your own ancestors grieved and ritualized death and loss. This will be different for each of us. What I hope to offer you are simple suggestions for ways to grieve that are uniquely your own and which arise out of someplace ancient and wise within you.
Grief is not linear.
It does not begin and end in a way that is predictable, reliable, or tidy. It is like a chime which sounds in the breeze—clearly audible at first, fading until it grows almost imperceptible, and then sounding again when the winds move through it just right. There is something sonorous about grief when we allow it to move through us. It cleanses our lives with its salty river of tears. The funny thing about it though, is that even when we ache to feel its touch upon our hearts, sometimes we cannot seem to let it in.
Suppressed grief takes many forms. We experience it as anxiety, mania, tension, anger, and even arousal. If we recognize that we are the process of grieving and call upon plants and practices to support us, we will eventually begin to soften, shift, and heal.
What follows is a guide which offers
herbal allies and practical suggestions
for navigating many kinds of grief.
I wrote this guide because I am grieving; because I have grieved. And I know that when you are in the thick of this process, you need to be reminded that what you are feeling is normal, how best to care for yourself, and most importantly, that it will not last forever.
I hope that this guide will serve as a point of departure for your own exploration as well a safe haven to which you can return at any time as you walk the path of healing that will inevitably lead you back to yourself.