Loss and letting go

Loss is never easy. Letting go can be difficult too. I lost a wonderful friend and teacher last week when after a long illness she passed away peacefully.

I am grateful to have had this friend in my life for the last seven years or so, I can’t count the blessings that have followed me since I first met her, the amazing friendships that have resulted from knowing her, the tears and laughter that have flowed.

Stream flowing
Flowing over pebbles

I have difficulty letting go of things. I still wear clothing that is older than some of my grown up nephews and nieces so letting go is something that I’m learning to work on.

Letting go of people is even harder. I believe that when we hold on we restrain the spirit from continuing on it’s journey, whatever that journey may be. It’s not our business to hold on, it is our business to let go. I know I’m lucky that this death was not unexpected so I didn’t have the violence of surprise to deal with, also that this is not the first death of someone close to me. However I’m not sure that death is something you become used to, even after many losses, I’m not sure it’s something you become good at accepting. I do know that support is a great help, that it’s wonderful to talk with people who loved the departed, to tell stories, to weep together, to say how you feel right now, to ask friends to light candles. It’s not a time to pretend to be all grown up, death can make children of us all.

On the evening of her funeral I took a walk up the hill behind us, through the forest, as the light was fading. The wind was blowing hard to the north, clouds were flying on the wind as were my thoughts and tears. In the pocket of my old rain coat my fingers found a beach pebble, I often find pebbles in coat or jacket pockets, usually placed there shortly after getting the clothing so this pebble was probably in my pocket for some fifteen years or more. I played with it as I walked, enjoying the texture, it helped me to feel present.

I sang a song that was special to us and wondered how to let her go, I didn’t want to, I wanted to hold on to her selfishly, to bind her to me however I knew that I couldn’t. I knew that I had too much respect for her and had learnt too much from her to hold on so I waited for the panic to subside, then I let go of the pebble.

Morning Practice

Be Still Morning Practice by paleoirish.com
Be Still

Do you have a morning ritual or practice? Is it a spiritual practice or a physical exercise routine? This morning I enjoyed both although that wasn’t my intention.

I went for a hour long walk, at least that was the intention, I don’t know how long I was as I didn’t bring a phone and I haven’t owned a watch in a very long time. I hadn’t slept as well as I usually do as there was something bothering me and I wanted to leave it behind on my walk. I wanted to not be thinking about it all day so I set out on a walk that I know takes about an hour. It’s a there and back walk, not a circuit as our road actually becomes a gravel forest track and ends in the Sitka Spruce plantations, it is used by the foresters when they cut or plant the pine trees and very rarely has any traffic on it. The route that I took this morning is a new extension though, the forestry lads built it during the year to extend their ability to access more trees for cutting and hauling and it has given me a new route for walking.

For awhile on the walk I was still bothered by what I didn’t want to be thinking about and so I was trying to not think about it. Have you ever done that? If you have then I’m sure you know how fruitless that endeavor is. The more you try to not think about it the more it rattles around in your head and grows, you hear imaginary conversations about the issue with other people, it grows legs and can outpace me any day.

After a while I did become distracted by my surroundings and thought about it less and less. Sometimes distraction is just what you need. I recognised the stand of trees where I saw a red squirrel earlier in the year and so I was walking more quietly and becoming more observant in the hopes that I might spot it again. Before I knew it I was at the end of the track and went to investigate the amazing toadstools and mushrooms that I saw a few days ago. I didn’t have a camera with me so I can’t share them with you today, perhaps another day.

I felt drawn into the woods and crossed a ditch so that I was in among the Sitka spruce. We’ve had weeks here with no rain so the ditches are dry as was the forest floor, in fact the forest floor looked so soft and inviting that I put my wind-cheater down on the pine needles and lay under the trees, just at the edge so that I could look up through the trees and also out across the track to see the sky.

At first I moved around a little, finding a comfy spot on the soft ground, just feeling and enjoying the connection of the earth to my body. I became quiet and began to notice all the other sounds that were not connected with me. There was a surprising amount of wonderful birdsong, I cannot recognise many different birds by song and didn’t try to, I just enjoyed listening to them, real surround sound. I enjoyed the play of the branches above me and how the light danced between the needles until it reached me. Every now and then there was sound that was just like rain falling however I knew that it wasn’t raining and after a time I saw what was making the sound. Across the track, aboveĀ and behindĀ the pine trees I could see wild growing Aspen trees moving in the slight breeze, their rounded leaves rattling and dancing against each other and then quieting again as the breeze died away.

If I hadn’t been so bothered I’m sure my walk would have been just that – a walk. I’m grateful for the experience it became when I got out of the way.

I’m glad to have re-learnt that I cannot “not think” about something, rather I need to replace the thought, much like it’s very difficult to get rid of a bad habit, you will be so much more successful changing the habit than trying to eradicate it. I’m happy to have found some beautiful Aspen in the midst of the pine and will enjoy sharing my find with a tree-wise part-time neighbour who has taught me much about trees and our neigbbourhood because he sees it with different eyes.

Do you have a morning ritual or practice you would like to share? Please leave a comment, I ‘d love to hear from you.