Celebrating the onset of spring and connecting with the cycle of life can help us process difficult emotions, says Jane Cato, our counselling and bereavement services manager.
Although I’m now working from home, I’ve started walking to work in the morning as my allowed exercise for the day – I walk on the beach before I ‘arrive’ at my desk. Yesterday, while I was out, I was acutely aware of how the earth is waking up to the arrival of spring; a new cycle of life is beginning.
Yet life does not always go to plan or turn out as expected and I was reminded of this on my walk when I saw two little broken eggshells on the ground from a bird’s nest. Sometimes things break and die and there is disappointment and pain, but life carries on; the birds keep nesting, other eggs will hatch and new life will prevail.
As the weather begins to change it can affect our emotions; for many of us even if we’re in lockdown inside our homes, having the sun streaming through the window brings warmth and feelings of hope. However, people affected by life-limiting illness (for whom time is precious), and those grieving the loss of a loved one can find it difficult. It’s common for those who are grieving to rage against the good weather, because even though we’re moving into spring and summer it doesn’t feel like that on the inside.
Our Earthworks project at our allotment has been particularly helpful for men who are grieving; they have been able to dig up the soil and clear the plants and vegetables that have died over winter, then prepare the soil for new potatoes and seeds; there’s a tangible sense of a future that’s supportive and life affirming.
When people feel tight, tense, pent up and sad, the feelings can get stuck physically in the body. But connecting with the earth, clearing the soil and sowing seeds taps into the flow of life and helps release emotional tension and connect to a future.
Although our Earthworks volunteers can’t come to the allotment at the moment because of the lockdown, Katie who manages the project is making sure all our plants are watered and tended so they continue to flourish.
If you have an outdoor space at home then I recommend getting stuck into some weeding as it’s a great way to release pent up emotions and process something of what you are living with. I did some cleaning yesterday indoors; usually I dislike cleaning, but I felt so much better for it as just the activity of doing something physical allowed me to experience a sense of emotional clearing and sorting. Doing something physical and influencing your immediate environment can be really helpful during this long period of self-isolation.
If you don’t have a garden or a balcony, then perhaps consider growing something on your window sill. You can order window boxes, soil and seeds or plants online. Watching something grow and nurturing plants is a simple way of connecting with the cycle of life during the uncertain times we are living through.
Useful Services and information:
Cruse Bereavement Service
Cruse offer a bereavement helpline to give support as you need it in addition to their website where you can also find resources on how to support your child.
Winston’s Wish has a wealth of resources and advice on how to support your child through bereavement, whilst also dealing with your own grief. They also have a free phone helpline you can call.
Childhood Bereavement UK
Child Bereavement UK supports families and educates professionals when a baby or child of any age dies or is dying, or when a child is facing bereavement.