The Austin Center for Grief & Loss
As we prepare for a transition into cool mornings and early sunsets, I have been taking the time to reflect on how nature beautifully represents our mission at Austin Grief. As the trees let go of their leaves in preparation for a season of rest and recovery, it allows me to reflect on what is lost, what is left, and what is possible.
I always look forward to the first signs of fall; the leaves begin to slowly change, brisk
mornings, and the sun begins to change from a penetrating light to a hazy glow. As the
season progresses, the leaves begin to change into vibrant colors and slowly release from
the trees. Within weeks we are left with empty branches, cool days, and a sense of
stillness. I am reminded of how we can associate this transition with the initial phase of
grief. Grief can leave us empty without our loved one. The way in which our lives have
completely changed from vibrant life to numbness and pain. When grief informs our whole
world, it can leave us lonely and desperate for connection to our roots and core. In nature
the experience of fall is very purposeful. Trees need to let go of their leaves in order to
prepare for the harshness of winter. In grief, we sometimes need to preserve our core for
a period of time in order to one day grow again.
As nature begins to prepare for winter, preservation becomes critical. Every last bit of
sunshine and water is stored in order to survive a cruel winter. What we see in the outside
world may be empty branches, brown grass, and flower blooms falling away. However,
the internal experience is a very different process. Everything is still very much alive and
fully functioning. As we move into the “what is left” phase of grief, this can be a similar
experience. While our life will never be the same again, grief work can help us slowly
identify what is left in our lives. Our core group of friends, family, and support help us
nourish and preserve, but they can help us grow. They can help us remember that through
loss, we can rediscover life and remember there is still love and connection in our lives.
As fall transitions into winter, we are left with a period of bleakness. It feels as if nothing is
ever going to grow again. Survival is a battle for months. However, this period has
purpose. The leaves fall down to the forest floor to provide enough nourishment for the
earth’s soil to grow more leaves for when spring arrives. Each year when the laurels grow
and the bluebonnets begin to emerge again, I am reminded of what is possible. In the final
phase of grief, we are reminded that we can find meaning and joy in life again. We can
transform our experience of the harshness into nourishment for our souls. Far too often,
we fear the dark and adore only the light. The same can be said for grief. What I try to
remember is we need balance and perspective as this is what allows for our experiences
to be whole.
These symbolic associations are powerful reminders that Mother Nature has an incredible
influence on our lives. Death forces us to examine the purpose of life. At Austin Grief we
strive to connect and empower those mourning to invest in life again. We believe that our
connections to our loved ones are not gone, but our relationship may be different. With
balance and purpose we can allow ourselves to love and trust again.