Energetics of Grief

A few months ago, I talked  a little about the emotions from an energetic perspective. This week, I’d like to address one of the more difficult emotions and that’s that of grief.

Have you ever noticed that grief is, in many ways, the most frightening emotion to give ourselves over to? It often feels as if tears and sorrow will never leave. I find it interesting that the organ pairing that governs grief also governs letting go.

Consider letting go in the bigger picture. Each year in the world, plants bloom or bear fruit. That fruit is picked or dropped so that the plant can procreate. Whether it is fruit the carries the seeds to be dropped elsewhere or in nuts that will be buried by squirrels, the plant bears these fruits and then lets go of them.

Farmers take the good wheat from the field, leaving behind that which is less desirable. They make choices as to which to hold onto and which to leave behind.

The organ pairing that govern grief also govern our ability to make these choices, to find the jewels that need to be saved and that which needs to be let go. Also, understand that letting go does not have to happen overnight. Spring does not follow late summer and fall. Spring follows winter, that time when everything hibernates and comes to a stop and rests.

We think we can avoid grief by doing. In fact, doing and moving distracts us from our grief rather than letting us process it. It is only in resting and in stillness that we mentally find those things we want to hold to and those that we want to let go.

In addition to letting go, the organs that relate to grief also govern our immune system and in particular when we are grieving or sorrowing we need to watch out for illness. This is especially true for upper respiratory illnesses like colds and pneumonia. It is important to maintain healthy activities.

A difficulty for those who work in animal shelters is that it seems like they are always having to let go. Sometimes the letting go is joyous as the pets are going to a good home. Other times it is not so joyous. Even in no kill shelters, a cat or dog may be so elderly and sickly that euthanasia is the most humane thing that can be done for them. Knowing there are pets that are suffering and the shelter has to turn away some animals and in so doing, risk their lives at a kill shelter can be hard as well. By doing nothing, by not having the resources to do more it can feel like one has failed. Those failures need to be grieved as well.

The lesson of the harvest is that we can’t take everything with us. We have to let the seeds go and fall where they may. We must take only that which we can hold. We have only so much space and so much time. The penalties for that pet we couldn’t help may be severe but understanding limitations is important. We may rage and grieve for the one we couldn’t help but ultimately we must let that life go, knowing we have done what we could and not blame ourselves for not finding a better answer. The blame can make our bodies hang onto grief long after it may need to be let go of.

When we are full and have done all we can, remember that the cherry tree doesn’t bloom in the winter. It rests. Finding the cycle in smaller areas, such as having a life where we rest and create in other places can be a help when the time at the shelter seems all about “harvest” and difficult choices. It is balance.

It is also understanding that in the large picture, maybe things are changing, even if it doesn’t seem that way today or for that pet we wanted to save and couldn’t. And within that larger picture are all the pets we did save, even if we know there is still more work to be done.

Understanding the cycle also doesn’t mean not grieving. It means making space for the grieve to move through and be processed. Quiet time helps. Talking can help. Different things work for different people. Grief will have the best chance of moving through if you maintain your health, so eating regularly and well helps. And don’t forget the wonders of a hot bath.


  1. Vespa and Vincent says

    Dear Chey,

    Our mistress lost a friend this week to cancer. Julie helped civilize Foyle to the degree that dogs can be civil. The mistress is very sad and we have been collecting her tears. We read her this piece and she has agreed to rest more.

    Thanks, V&V

  2. When in the active state of mourning it is hard to make rational decisions. The mind is so numbed by the overwhelming sadness. There is a good reason why the advise is to not make any major decisions for up to the first year, sometimes that of course is not possible, but when you lose something that is so extraordinary meaning to you it is hard to mourn. Mourning is not accepted well in our society anymore. It’s like we live in a throw away society and you’re just supposed to “get over it”. By not mourning you are doing more harm. Everyone mourns differently and there is no right or wrong way to express it, but expressing it is the most important aspect of it.

  3. da tabbies o trout towne says

    Chey; this is an excellent post…

  4. I agree, grief is a frightening emotion. As farmers I need to look at it from that perspective and your post has given me a lot to think about.

  5. This is a wonderful post, Chey.
    I was by Glogirly’s side when she lost her dad. She got pneumonia the day after the funeral. She’s always told me I was a huge help to her. …still, I know she misses him terribly. I think there’s a little part of her grief that she carries with her always.

  6. Excellent post, Chey. Many lessons to be learned from your wise words…

  7. Oh that’s so beautiful….

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