I love trees. They carry so much beautiful energy and wisdom. This post about what trees can teach us about grief was inspired by this message from Mother Earth that I received:
What are you feeling ready to stop hanging onto in your life and just let go? I’m feeling the Earth pulling us a little here, with a little insistence. It’s a pulling off of what we need to release. She’s trying to help us get rid of our limitations! Beautiful.
So just go with it and imagine your limiting beliefs, thoughts, behaviours, all of it, just being magnetically pulled away from you in all directions, absorbed into the Earth’s atmosphere, and sent down to her core for recycling.
Now I understand why I received that message from Mother Earth…
We humans want to hang onto what we’ve got, and it’s mostly out of fear of what will happen if we let go.
What if we behaved like trees?
Trees know exactly what they’re doing.
Every tree across Mother Earth is flexible and bends in the wind, so it doesn’t have to fall down every time it gets pushed. They continuously reach up to the Sun and into the Earth with their whole being. They have super strong roots and an abundance of leaves in order to receive the light and nourishment they need. That reminds us to surround ourselves with a support system.
When Fall comes along, for most trees, letting go of their leaves is just another part of the cycle of life. Or for evergreens, they have their own cycle of letting go. They drop some of their old inner needles, usually during the Fall.
Trees show us how to honour Life even while letting go.
Hardwood trees gradually create the most incredible displays of colour, living their life to the fullest while gifting us with their beauty. That is one of the most beautiful things trees can teach us about grief.
Then the trees release their leaves, each leaf swirling to the ground in its own time.
Even after they softly reach the ground, leaves continue to produce beauty. As I walk outside in the Fall, I am always reminded of the sweetness of letting go. I can’t help but breathe in and enjoy the fragrance of the decaying leaves on the roadside. It’s strange to think about death or letting go as “sweet” but the sweetness comes one leaf at a time. We let go little by little of the life we knew and the life we thought we might have.
When we lose a loved one, that grief springs up from our love for that person or pet. Feeling grief hurts but that’s why it comes in waves. It’s similar to how wind gusts suddenly blow tons of leaves off the trees in the Fall and then all is still again. That wind comes in waves.
Also, the leaves are not ready to fall all at once, just like our tears and the messy phases of grief. But you can have that sweetness of those beautiful memories of your lost loved ones, in between the waves of grief. When I lost my son, that was my experience and I witnessed it in my sister too.
Trees teach us that new life and growth will come.
I don’t say this lightly. I lost my parents one after the other when I was a teenager. My son was murdered in 2016. I am still grieving that traumatic loss of my son and now have C-PTSD as a result. I lived with depression into my 30’s without knowing it, until an Indigenous healing ceremony helped me to feel the grief about my mom’s suicide and finding my dad after his heart attack.
What the trees can teach us about grief through new life and growth is to never give up on ourselves. If depression sets in, if you have trauma or the grief just feels like too much, get support.
Did you know that many trees support and even feed each other through their connected root systems? They don’t isolate like we can tend to do.
I’ve seen fully uprooted trees on their side on the forest floor STILL GROWING. It reminds me that my son and my parents are not just gone. They have simply found another way to express their spirit and the life force energy they still carry.
Grief can feel unbearable but our hearts will open again
Last but not least, what trees can teach us about grief is that we can come back out of our grief. Spring comes and you see all those beautiful little buds opening up. Our hearts open up too, when we laugh with loved ones about old memories.
Kind of like how those leaves fall to the ground in waves, so does the heaviness of our grief, with the right support.
When we lose someone, the grief can feel almost unbearable. It probably won’t feel like you’ll ever get over your grief – and you’re right. You won’t. You will carry it with you but it will become lighter over time. Let the tears flow and create ways to honour and remember the life of your loved one.
What Trees Can Teach Us about Anniversary Dates
Those anniversary dates like death anniversaries, birthdays, murder trials and funeral dates can be really tough. Get ready in advance. Think of the trees again. Trees celebrate and show us the life of every single leaf before it falls. I know it probably feels like you can’t prepare for anything but this is important. Have someone help you so when those dates come around, it’s not as awful for you.
For example, for my son Quinn’s death anniversary in 2021, I released a new single called “Together We Can Stand Up.” Quinn died by systemic racism and gun violence. I created a song to bring people together and show that “together we can stand up and create a better future.”
Your heart will open and all that love can help you grieve but also get through those difficult anniversary dates. It also gives you something to do when you need a healthy distraction. If you can create something that helps others, you will feel better for it as well.
Love & Blessings,
Brenda MacIntyre, Medicine Song Woman
- Want to dive right in and get some support? Head over here.
FOLLOW ME ON SPOTIFY – MUSIC FOR THESE CRAZY TIMES:
- Follow My Artist Account on Spotify.
- Follow my Global Pandemic Playlist on Spotify. The studio (CD, not live) version of the songs I sang in the livestreamed concert are also in this playlist.
- Follow the RENEWAL Playlist for springtime on Spotify