“Autumn is the time of year when Mother Nature says,
‘Look how easy, how healthy, and how beautiful letting go can be.’”
The above quote was on my perpetual calendar for October 1. I’ve sat with it for days, feeling it was my prompt for writing this month’s blog. When I began to write, all I could do was reflect on last month. It wasn’t easy.
September was a challenging month for me. It’s the month of my eldest daughter Amanda’s birthday. September is also the month when she first came into our lives—just four days after she turned two years old. Her father and I legally adopted her the following year. Since Amanda’s death in April 2019, those two September days are now days of remembrance.
This year was especially significant as her daughter’s due date with her second child was the day before Amanda’s birthday. However, one week before his anticipated birth, she learned that she’d lost her son. She delivered her beautiful eight pound, eight ounce boy stillborn exactly eight days before her mom’s birthday.
September has now taken on a deeper remembrance of loss. And there is no explanation for why.
We understand what happened in utero, but the bigger “why” remains unanswered. The question, “Why would my granddaughter lose her son exactly one week before his expected birth, bringing with him the light and promise of new life as we continue to grieve the one we lost so unexpectedly and much too early?” cannot be explained. The answer remains a mystery that cannot be soothed by platitudes such as “It’s ___’s will” or even one I’ve used many times for myself: “We’re never given more than we can handle.” Those statements meant to bring solace only bring more tears. I sit in this current, pain-filled mystery of loss with no ability to understand.
I’ve looked to nature and the greater Universe for answers, to the places where I find so much solace—to Mother Earth, Father Sky, the planets and stars—and realize there are none. My sense is that they most likely will never come.
This is part of the great mystery of life.
And maybe that is the answer.
One aspect of loss that nature reflects back to me is the change taking place during our current autumn season. I can see it happening directly out my kitchen window. The leaves on our majestic backyard tree have begun to turn brilliant colors of golden yellow. It seems they are turning color later this year. No matter the timing, though, after this beautiful, brilliant lightshow, the leaves will begin to die and drop to the ground. Soon, she will stand naked to face winter’s elements, going inward to conserve and store energy until it’s time to come to life in spring. She shows me that this cycle of shedding, storing, resting, and awakening to grow and produce is her process.
She goes through this cycle each year as she continues to grow and thrive, thickening at her base and stretching her branches further toward the sky. She seems to go through this process from a place of neutrality, releasing what she no longer needs for her survival. If she were to hold on, clinging to what was once life-filled, in time, she would likely become depleted and sick, most likely dying herself.
In this current moment, I remain incapable of releasing my grief for the loss of my daughter and my great-grandson. My great-grandson’s death reopened the wound of my daughter’s death. This current wave of grief makes me understand that I’ll never be able to let it go completely. Yet, I do believe that in time there will be a deeper release. Joy-filled days will return in greater numbers as they had begun to do in the last couple of years.
Taking a lesson from my tree, who has been a beloved friend for almost eighteen years, I will use this autumn season and the impending winter season to go inward, to rest and reflect. And to consider the fabric of my grief in the threads of regret, remorse, guilt, and shame I continue to carry for what I did and didn’t do, especially as a mother to my daughter. These are the strands of fiber to be processed and released. These are filaments that if left untended will entangle and ensnare, depleting me and preventing me from further growth.
Release to Survive … then to Thrive
Just as my beautiful tree cannot deny her process of shedding in order to live another season, she encourages me to shed so that I can recognize the inward and outward light of hope, love, and compassion. By tending to my inner life, there is the promise of a deeper outward experience of joy.
I don’t know if I’ll ever consider the process of letting go easy or beautiful, but I do believe to my core that is it healthy to release whatever prevents the light from entering, just as my special tree, Anya, teaches me.
As you continue through this autumn season, what might it be time to process, shed, and release? Letting go is a process. It takes patience, trust, and belief that just as each sunset takes us into darkness, each sunrise brings us into the light of a new day.
I wish you continued blessings on your life journey.