Breaking Down Grief

"Hope is the active conviction that despair will not have the last word" - Cory Booker

Trigger warning - mentions of suicide

Growing up my mother had a bucket outside the back door for compost. All the scraps of produce not necessary for our own nourishment, combined together to create nourishment for the garden. I was so fascinated by the fact that the breaking down of this organic matter could over time create something that would allow new life to be grown, new beginnings and fresh starts.

On November 12th of this year it will have been 3 years since my mother passed. I was losing her in pieces throughout the years preceding that day before she lost her fiercely fought battle against bi-polar disorder. All valiant efforts to overcome the mountains put in her path, ended with a suicide that changed our lives. Her death welcomed a grief that filled our lungs like thick smoke. I felt suffocated by my grief. Like I was sitting at the bottom of that compost bucket, looking up at all these emotions and thoughts that I didn’t know how to deal with, that I didn’t know how to use for my nourishment. I began a frantic attempt to get rid of the grief. I wanted it to be gone. I wanted to be free from the heartache of missing someone that you would never see again.

“Nature does not hurry and yet everything is accomplished” Lao Tzu

Back to the bottom of the bucket, where I would spend much of the next year, looking at a decomposing mess of confusion. The thing about emotions, thoughts, fears, and worries, is that they are always changing. The big gnarly emotions that hit you like a freight train and leave you paralyzed on the ground, won’t always be that big. That indescribable darkness that you feel wrapped around your legs immobilizing you, won’t always be that heavy. The giant rock in your belly that makes it hard to breathe won’t be there forever. To decompose is to break down into simpler more digestible bits. To decompose is to transform. I had to decompose the view I had of the world where suicide didn’t impact me. I had to decompose the picture of my future where my mother would be standing next to me on my wedding day. I had to decompose the fear of living without her.

To break down is terrifying. It means to break all that you knew about the world, and use that broken down material to create a fertile environment for a new perspective to be born from, a new you to be born into.

At the bottom of the bucket I learned that everything is transforming all the time, I learned the time is really good medicine, I learned to never stop learning, I learned to listen to every scrap that was thrown into that bucket and trust that it too was decomposing itself into a form that I could understand and heal. I learned that my grief was the breaking down of who I used to be, but also the nourishment for the ground that I would rise from. 

Things may feel really messy right now. Your bucket may be a barrel, your barrel might be a deep deep hole and your deep deep hole may be the size of the ocean. Everything a massive pile of rotten mush, and that is okay. Everything you are feeling is valid and important. Please do not rush this process. Every new thought, feeling, experience is valuable teacher that is leading your closer to you. Be patient with yourself.

Written by Devyn Brook, Community Manager with The Do More Agriculture Foundation

Do More Ag