How to Work with Grief - Appendix

Speaking with Nature: Awakening to the Deep Wisdom of the Earth - Sandra Ingerman, Llyn Roberts 2015

How to Work with Grief

As you connect with the natural world, you will notice that all creatures grieve. Elephants, gorillas, dolphins, and other animals show grief when they lose a parent, mate, or baby. When a bird loses its mate, you will hear it cry. A squirrel will cry for days when a raven takes her baby. When a house plant dies, the plant sitting right next to it might deteriorate.

When we spend a lot of time in nature and connect back to the beauty this life has to offer us, we get attached to our favorite places, trees, plants, animals, birds, insects, and other nature beings. When we watch the changes occurring in nature through human destruction, weather changes, and environmental disasters, we may experience a state of grief.

We are familiar with the grief process when we lose a friend or loved one, but some of us are in unfamiliar territory as we deal with the loss of nature beings we have grown to love. And just as we do when we grieve loved ones, we must allow the process of grief to be expressed.

Death is not an end; rather it is a transition into another realm of being. The experience of grief is important for our growth and evolution. Grief helps us to develop a deep inner well that will help us to expand.

When you feel your heart breaking, your heart is actually expanding. The expansion helps you to be a greater vessel of love, which is the greatest healing force. There is nothing like grief to assist you in opening to a greater state of love. When your heart expands you feel more compassion for the suffering of others. And with compassion you hold the space for others to heal.

When you try to stop grief you attempt to stop growth. In nature life that is not growing is dying. The state of grief, no matter how bad it feels, is so filled with life. Grief helps to create more expansion in our inner world and a greater flow of life force. Grief creates a fertile state in which new relationships and opportunities can be created.

The issue to look at and reflect on is how you can support yourself while you are grieving. It is not beneficial to repress grief altogether.

First you must acknowledge your feelings. Acknowledging your sadness and emotional pain creates energetic movement that leads to transformation. When you repress a feeling, it continues to build inside, where the energy of the feeling creates emotional and/or physical stress, possibly seeding a future illness. It is important to express the full range of your emotions.

You have to return to your job and your daily routines, but it is important to create time to grieve. Find friends and community with whom you can share your feelings. Spend some alone time when you can be with your feelings.

For many people it is important to have a loving community that can just be there to listen. It’s our tendency to want to fix those we love when they are in need, but with grief there is nothing to fix and no way to take grief away from someone else. Just being present, listening, and being a loving support helps tremendously.


It is important not to pity someone in a state of grief. Energetically pity is a heavy energy to carry. Imagine thousands of people pitying you if you are in a state of grief. Do you want to experience that kind of energy being sent to you?

Find ways to pamper yourself. You may want to relax in a bath. Water is a healing element. Release your pain into the water while asking the water to transmute your pain into energy that radiates love and light.

Physically lie on the earth or imagine yourself lying on the earth. Let your pain drain from you into the earth. Give thanks to Mother Earth for taking your pain and composting it into fertile organic matter that will create new growth. Reflect on how the earth composts the leaves that have died and fallen to the ground in autumn to create rich and fertile soil.

You can also write down feelings you wish to release and burn them in the flames of a fire. In indigenous cultures fire is seen to be the element of transmutation and transformation.

Go outside and allow the wind to carry away your feelings of pain while you stay open to loving messages that you hear from the breezes.

Giving thanks to the element you are working with is a way to honor the elements that sustain your life. Decree that the energy you are releasing be transformed into love and light. In this way you feed the energy in the world with blessings that heal all in the web of life.

Most of all give yourself time to grieve. There is no time frame when you “should” feel better. As you allow yourself to fully embrace your feelings, time itself will bring you to a place of regeneration. Everything in life changes, including grief. It may not end, but it changes.

You can also perform a simple ceremony to honor the life that has moved on to the transcendent realms—the realm of spirit.

You can leave an offering by a tree that has died, giving thanks for the beauty it shared on this great Earth and wishing it a good journey home. When you see an animal that has died, you can lift your arms up giving thanks for this being’s life and wishing it a good journey home. You can do this after the death of any nature being you wish to honor. All living beings deserve to be honored when they die. You can also do this long distance as you hear about the death of many living beings in destructive environmental events.

You may feel deep grief when your favorite place in nature is destroyed through a climatic event, if the land is sold, if you move, or if a building project will prevent future visits. The spirit of the land is always available to you in your memory and through your meditations. You can still visit this place through your spiritual work. The spirit of this place is eternal.

There is also the grief we feel as we observe the unconscious behavior of humans who act in abusive ways toward other life forms. It is important to acknowledge the feelings that arise as we watch graphic images and read stories provided by the media of animal abuse. We need to speak out against abuse, but at the same time we create healing for all of life when we can embody a state of peace. As you continue to honor the Earth and all that is alive, you will find peace in the spiritual practices in which you engage.


*1. Shodoev, Nikolai, Spiritual Wisdom from the Altai Mountains (Moon Books, 2012), 33.

*2. Shodoev, Spiritual Wisdom from the Altai Mountains, 33.