I kept going back and forth in my mind about publishing this post. I didn’t envision Soulful Seasons being about sad, hard things. My hope is to be life giving and generally uplifting. But this topic persists in my heart. It wants a voice, so I greatly appreciate you as listener.
Being attuned to the natural world brings me great joy and enriches my life in so many ways. The shadow side of this is a deepening sense of sorrow and grief as I bear witness to suffering in nature—both from natural and unnatural causes.
I often experience a heavy heart as I observe loss in nature. I understand all living things have a lifecycle. There are food webs with predator and prey. There is natural death at the end of an organism’s life.
My grief is heaviest when the natural world experiences loss due to human causes. In my suburban environment, I witness this on nearly a daily basis. The wildflowers getting mowed down on the side of the highway. The turtle that was crushed by a car. The loss of habitat for wildlife that has been clear cut for a new car dealership. The black tar residue in our neighborhood creek from the storm water runoff after our road was recently repaved.
Beyond my community, there is even more suffering. The death of millions of migratory birds as they travel north in the spring and south in autumn — disoriented by light pollution and tall buildings.
The litany of loss is unending.
If you are a sensitive soul or are especially attached to nature, you may have these feelings quite often as I do.
How do we manage our grief on a regular basis? How do we respond?
Compassion & Comfort
When I’m out with my son and we see a part of nature being hurt, we talk about it. We ask questions. We express how we feel. We hug each other. We often have a moment of silence to fully experience our thoughts and feelings. We offer ourselves and each other compassion and comfort.
I remind myself of nature’s resilience. I take note of the new shoot growing from a stump. Or the emergence of hatchling birds and turtles and baby bunnies in the spring. Or the dandelion springing forth from a crack in the driveway or the ground of dry clay.
I don’t consider myself the activist type, but as a creative soul I can creatively respond…through writing poetry or these blog posts. By honoring a part of nature through a watercolor or collage. By taking a photo in appreciation of something I notice.
There are very practical ways that I can nurture nature in my little neck of the woods. These acts of stewardship help to mitigate my grief and hopefully help nature. Our family enjoys providing bird baths and birdhouses for the song birds in the area. We also try to restore habitat in our community by planting native and pollinator friendly flora.
Blessings & Gratitude
I can say a blessing for or offer my gratitude to the creatures that share their habitat with me. Maybe I should offer gratitude for my grief, which engenders humility, wisdom, and action.
Although we share a collective grief for loss in the natural world, each person’s response will be as unique as the individual.
What comforts you when you grieve for nature?
What response feels authentic for you?
“There I lay staring upward, while the stars wheeled over… Faint to my ears came the gathered rumor of all lands: the springing and the dying, the song and the weeping, and the slow everlasting groan of overburdened stone.”
J. R. R. Tolkien