As a farmer, I am very aware of the cycles of life. Every spring, I await the emergence of my blueberry buds. I welcome the honeybees who pollinate them, and over the next two months, watch the buds transform into ripe blueberries.
The season is over now, and as I graze on some of the last ripe berries, I know that soon the leaves will drop, and the bud swellings for next year will appear this fall. After the new year, I’ll be out there, pruning back the excess growth to allow room for the new to breathe and prosper. Another cycle of growth, death and rebirth.
I think of this also as I continue to feed the dozen hummingbirds that come to my feeders, knowing that soon they will be migrating south for the winter. The other birds that call this land home over the summer will also be leaving, and their calls will no longer fill the air. I’ll miss them all when they leave, but I know that some, if not all, will return in the spring.
The slow shift of my surroundings from lush green to the often-vibrant colours of fall has already begun, and I find myself thinking ahead to what needs to be done in preparation for winter. Mother Nature repeats these cycles along with me every year, and I accept and appreciate the changes in my environment as they occur.
Why, then, is it so difficult for me to accept the cycles of life on a more personal level? I look in the mirror and see the lines on my face changing from rivulets into deeper creases. I see family and friends aging, in the way they move their bodies or in their memory lapses. And I see my loyal companion, my dog, slowing down as she navigates the downhill slope of her life.
These are cycles of life, just like the ones Mother Nature brings. But they’re so much harder for me to accept with an understanding that loss is certain, if not imminent.
Love gives us support and courage
I’ve felt deep emotions ever since I was a child, often being told I was just ‘too sensitive,’ and that I needed to toughen up. But with this sensitivity comes a wonderful gift of understanding how we are all connected, and how true loss is only an illusion. The transitions that occur in the world allow us room for growth and personal rebirth, as we shed the ways of thinking or seeing that no longer serve us.
So then, why do I want to slow down this progress that is inevitable in my personal life? We’ve all felt loss and experienced the strong emotions that accompany it. This human emotion of grief comes from experiencing deep love, something I hope we all have felt in our lives, for this love certainly raises us higher than we could have gone without it. This love, especially when reciprocated in kind, gives us the support and courage we need to move forward in times of challenge or change.
I know I am not alone in feeling this sadness over loss, for I can feel it in others, many of whom I don’t even know. I feel it as currents of grief filling the air, as they find their way into my heart and into my connection with All of Creation. This sadness sits there until I can breathe it out, until I can ground it into the Mother, as I replace it with loving energy sent out to fill the void left behind.
I’ve been through these transitions before. My father died when I was only 18, and I remember how I reflected on where he went. I knew that we were still connected, for I could feel him near me. But I also knew that the tethers that bound us had lengthened to allow him the opportunity to experience a new way of being.
I still hear from him on occasion, as I do others who have crossed over into the non-physical realm. The love is still present, and as the grief has subsided, I’ve felt more clarity of connectionpect has made things less frustrating for those who’ve wanted to communicate from the other side, but had previously been unable to push through the heavy fog of my emotion.
When I think of my own transition from this human form into the free-flowing spirit of my natural state, I anticipate it with joy. I know that separating from these heavy forms is a welcome freedom that can fill my spirit, my soul, with great joy.
A difficult decision
Many years ago, I had to make the difficult decision of allowing the vet to put my precious dog to sleep. He had been badly injured in an accident. I don’t know exactly how it happened. He was always getting into trouble and had come home limping badly.
A friend judged me harshly for making this decision, until the morning of the deed, when she sat with him and heard him moaning with pain. I remember her apologizing to me for not seeing how necessary this was.
As we were undergoing the process, I was telling the vet stories of his antics, such as how he got into the neighbour’s rabbit hutch and grabbed their prize rabbit. My roommate at the time, when she realized what had happened, chased him all over on foot and in the car, trying to get him to drop the rabbit. He finally did. Unfortunately, he dropped it right in front of her car tire and she ran over it before she could stop the car.
When I got home from work and heard the story, I couldn’t help but laugh at the absurdity of it all. Of course, I did the responsible thing and talked with the neighbours, offering compensation for their loss. But I had to wait until I stopped laughing before I went over there.
Reviewing my dog’s life as we were releasing him brought a lightness to the room. But the greatest gift of all came as I drove away. I could feel him chasing after the car, filled with pure joy. The pain was gone, leaving only the freedom of movement that he so loved. It gave me peace to know he was just fine and that I would be, too.
Grief, joy and the cycles of life
Reflecting upon this and on other similar experiences I’ve had after losing those I loved, be they human or animal helps me put things in a better perspective. Feeling grief over the loss of a loved one is certainly a way of honouring them, but remembering them with joy is also necessary for balance.
Feeling grief over the loss of a loved one is certainly a way of honouring them, but remembering them with joy is also necessary for balance.
The cycle of life still continues, as the death of the physical form is only a part of the cycle. Rebirth into a new way of being is also an important part that needs to be acknowledged. We’re all part of nature, and we also recycle ourselves, just as my land and my blueberry bushes do every year.
And so, I will try not to anticipate these transitions in my life with the fear of loss, with the fear of the intense emotion I know I will feel when the time comes. May I be reminded, by the beauty that surrounds me, how every part of the cycle of life has its gift to share.
May I be able to feel the joy of release for those I love, as they leave this heavy plane, for they will leave when they have completed this arc of the cycle. They have touched me with their love; they’ve taught me through the encounters we shared, and they continue to pave the way for me as I move closer to that part of my own cycle.