Dealing With Grief – How can trees help us on dark days?

Just as in the deep earth the trees send their roots into a place without light, so it is that we journey through days of darkness out in the world and some of us through dark soul times too. Counting our blessings in the dark isn’t easy. Even though in the grieving process the days may start to lighten they may well still feel cold, bitter and leafless, for a long while yet, so what hope is there?

“I’m a pagan and have always since I could remember found trees as a comfort. Trees also show me that no matter what has been thrown at them they’re still standing so They remind me I can show the same strength, come out of any battle still standing.” Ancient and Sacred Trees member Kerry-Ann Barkham

Remembering is one of the greatest gifts we humans have. This is because remembering is a chance for us to acknowledge and honour the cycles of life. When you cut a tree open its’ story is written in its rings as well as in the wrinkles of its bark and its shape stretched out in the world. Do we judge trees for their journeys through life? Do we love a tree less for its bent beauty? Then why is it that we so often love ourselves less? Our modern society is ill equipped to help people deal with death. Too often we can feel judged over grieving, like it should be brief and then packed neatly away in a box never to be opened again.

“Cut through me & you will see rings.” Ancient and Sacred Trees member Vishad Pierce

“Each one is different, the knots, the twisted branches and just the pure beauty of them. They breathe to sustain life on Earth, just amazing.” Ancient and Sacred Trees member Paul Donnelly

Trees live in the moment. They do this through their many changes of dress throughout the year from bud, to blossom, to green leaf to autumn colour and finally in baring their bones to the sky. Stripped of all clothing and naked to the elements they scribe their beauty across our winter scoured skies. What if we too could learn to do this?

What Storms Shape Us?

What storms shape us? What windswept lonely vistas? When we step inside ourselves to escape the storms outside, only to encounter strange lands not yet mapped. Frost split stones, aching rock screes, silver bladed waters, dark rippled grasslands and strange forests whisper things on the edge of hearing. We turn our heads to listen but the sound is carried away on the wind. Here stood on the edge of things, heavy cloud and light-earth-thoughts stop lining themselves up in neat orderly queues and turn into rook flight. Cawing loudly and tumbling wind faced and cloud dark, swinging up and down against invisible currents they ride.

What do we call them, these dark birds? A horde, a hover, a mob, a murder, a muster, a parcel, a parliament, a storytelling of crows? A building, a clamour, a parliament of rooks? There is only one unkindness of ravens.

We weigh these birds down yet still they take flight. We load our pockets with stones. The more ballast we take on the more we seesaw and spiral. Yet even these dark birds must come to roost somewhere.

In copses and canopies, lone trees, woodland edged road-cut landscapes, and thick forests beyond the curve of the hill. That is where these dark birds come to rest. Dark birds roosting. The trees bend and heave in rain lashed winds, creaking ships in billowing seas of change, yet there they remain. Up on the hill, down a dark lane, gathered in the valley folds they stand. We can learn a lesson or two from trees.

Even when humans try to tame them, they live beyond it and rewild.

Somehow, we have forgotten our own wildness, then we are surprised when our thoughts and feelings take flight. A ‘story telling of crows’ …. Not all our wisdom has been lost it would seem. Where are our stories? What are our stories?

We try and tame nature because we have forgotten that we are of it. We try and tame nature because we are constantly trying to tame ourselves. We live in a world of ‘should’ and ‘ought’, mainly of our own making, because that’s what our modern so-called civilised society has trained us to do.

‘A story telling of crows’. I revisit that phrase. And where is it that they roost? In trees. Anyone who has ever learned anything has sat under a tree.

Managing Our Feelings

But closer to home there’s an old man walking down a lane. He pauses, looks up and sniffs. He can smell snow coming then he readjusts his hat and carries on walking. He’s sat under a tree many a time, he knows where his roosting spot is.

Those crow thoughts are story tellers … I would go further than that they are truth tellers.

“I think that until a person experiences some kind of disability, they hardly know their inner, hidden qualities“. Client quote from World Mental Health Organisation

Next time they take flight, find their roosting spot. Go find that tree. Go outside, walk in the woods. Perhaps you live in a city, still go outside. Walk the pavements and go find an urban tree. If you can’t find a tree look up at the sky, feel the sky’s breath on your face. You can’t tame the heavens and somewhere out there, underneath, are trees and your roosting spot. Imagine it now. Those branches holding out their hands saying ‘I am here’. There is nothing we need do other than say that too.

Let your thoughts and feelings wheel against the sky. They are better left that way. Untamed. Sooner or later they will come back down to roost, back in the trees.

Join Us

Don’t be lonely come join our online community here at Last Wishes. They will be an outpouring of beauty and inspiration as people share their thoughts and experiences. These are love. These will be the roosting points of thousands of chattering birds in trees.

If this all sounds too busy for you and you want respite, you want peace, and rest and repose then take a look elsewhere on our website. There are blog articles on a wide range of topics, links to meditations, videos on all sorts of themes.

Or maybe just choose an image of one tree and contemplate that.

The website is continually being updated. There are so many things to explore and be inspired by. It is free to join us.

Join me next time for part 2 where I talk about love, connection and healing.



Founder Ancient and Sacred Trees

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