The end of the year has come. Our trees of life carry on with adding new rings of growth.
This year I practiced more of what I so often encourage others to do.
Be gentle with yourself.
No one loves you more. No one relies on you more. No one has more riding on the relationship.
This is one of the most difficult things to realize during grief, whether it is active caregiving or mourning death. The more I see it done well, the more I realize how much I have to learn. We are all learning, right?
Facing a new year with holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and milestones that are . . . well, stagnant, for lack of a better term, is a bittersweet place. If only we could go back. If only things hadn't changed.
Trees go through rough years, too. They experience droughts, wind storms, extremes in temperature, and fires. During acute recovery those trees don't grow much. They add the absolute minimum to their trunks, and they may not produce flowers or a heavy canopy. They may lose leaves.
These trees put their energy into growing down. They expand their roots. They create anchors for themselves that are stronger and broader - roots that can outreach anything that happens above the soil. It doesn't look like they are doing much, and yet they are building safety for themselves with work that is invisible to the rest of us.
I bet you are, too.
If 2017 was a heavy year for you, maybe it's time to look at your roots. It's okay to allow yourself the space and time to expand them. Anchor yourself. Maintain your connection with your loved one and use it to grow. What good can you carry forward to create a lush tree canopy that adds to the beauty of the world?
What will your ring for 2017 say?
I see a lot of incredible moments of the human experience while being with families in love and grief. From each family I learn, and those lessons and points to ponder are what I wish to share with you here.