top of page

The Grace in Grief

I just came across this beautiful quote and was struck yet again by the at times oracular nature of the internet, bringing forth exactly what was needed even though I did not know I was in need.

There are those, however, that are not frightened of grief: dropping deep into the sorrow, they find therein a necessary elixir to the numbness. When they encounter one another, when they press their foreheads against the bark of a centuries-old tree...their eyes well with tears that fall easily to the ground. The soil needs this water. Grief is but a gate, and our tears a kind of key opening a place of wonder thats been locked away. Suddenly we notice a sustaining resonance between the drumming heart within our chest and the pulse rising from the ground."

~ David Abram

2017 has offered up one loss after another, and I am not alone in my account. For my part, the messages have been profound though not necessarily easy or for sharing in polite company, so read on if you're feeling a bit windswept, otherwise, save this for another day...

Intolerant is what I have been, with the "deer-in-the-headlights" reactions sputtered out by a society that is frightened by grief - who does not know how to honour loss, let alone know what to do with or for someone who is in its throes - who instead of holding space for dropping deeper into sorrow, where the elixir to numbness resides, tries to raise spirits with thin cheer to avoid being submerged in their own well of grief - who deflects by immediately telling their own woe stories so we'll know, they know, exactly how we are feeling...


To avoid avoiding how I am being affected by the deaths and traumas of this still young year, and the run for cover reactions that have been showing up to teach me, I have noticed a desire to choose solitude and silence over conversation of late. Okay, that may not be entirely true, for in leaving aside the good intentioned intentions of human nature, I have found myself part of a deeper conversation - with myself, and with Nature herself.

Abram talks about an encounter in which we press our foreheads against a centuries-old tree. I have done this, most recently in a Glastonbury graveyard with an ancient yew, planted two millennia ago by a traveler from Arimathea. However, this winter, my encounter began not with a tree but with a twenty-four year old mare, who stood with me under a flake filled sky, with my forehead resting against hers.


Grace had been waiting for me. Outside. The paddock was covered in deep snow and she herself was blanketed in white. It was dinner time but she did not walk to her manger. She stood meters from the shelter. Looking at me. Waiting.

Her eyes held an invitation. I walked toward her, accepting. Head to head, a silent conversation began about endings and beginnings and how our essential nature emerges when the guarded casing of our heart dissolves.

...I've never thought about grief in term of stages, which infers that at some point there is a final stage, on the other side of which grieving is done. For me, grief feels more like an ocean, with ebbs and flows, and comings and goings, teaching my heart to be in balance with the fleeting and the eternal...

I turned my face upward, feeling flakes land upon my cheeks and then quickly melt within the droplets of tears that sprang from my eyes. Grace dropped her nose to my heart, silently articulating the essence of each loss, one after the other, going back beyond the chapter of this year. With each consoling breath, I was shown that love can take a different form than the one originally made for it.

I noticed myself exhale for the first time...a deep sigh that carried with it a letting go and a letting in.

Grace shifted in the snow, then with an exhale of her own, she left me for her dinner. I stood a while longer in the winter-white field, then passed through the gate and back up to the house.

I turned and looked for Grace before I entered, but it was Chiron who looked back at me through the snow. His eyes held an invitation... Sandra Wallin

March 21, 2017

bottom of page