“Notice that autumn is more the season of the soul than of nature.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
It’s always a good day when I receive my Blue Ridge Country magazine! I have subscribed to that magazine for years and enjoy the pictures and articles educating me on the mountains that I love. I tend to have a few new places I’d like to visit with each edition that comes my way.
In August, I received my fall issue of the magazine. There was something about the cover showing the trees in their autumn glory that just did my heart good. I admit that August’s hot, humid days (in which I am writing this article) get to me after a bit. Seeing the picture of the trees decked out with their beautiful leaves gave me hope for the future. In time, along with the leaves, the weather will change! I sat down with the magazine and immediately looked through it page-by-page, enjoying all of the pictures and a few short articles. I always go back and spend quality time with the magazine, reading articles and pondering, giving a deeper look into the pictures and imagining. I will eventually get the whole magazine read, but after my first initial sit down with it, I take my time enjoying it.
In the fall issue, it’s the pictures that get me. The fall colors of the leaves are absolutely stunning, and I have an admiration and jealousy for one who is able to get just the right picture at just the right time. The changing of the leaves and then the trees losing their leaves have always been what makes fall and winter my favorite seasons.
I am a true believer that nature has much to teach us if we are willing to pay attention. This teaching of nature occurs in all seasons, but the pictures in the magazine of those autumn leaves bring to mind a few of my own observations from much time spent admiring their beauty.
First of all, fall is the season that is all about change. Change is not something that we always welcome, nor may we particularly enjoy, but it is one thing that is certain! All of those green leaves of summer change into those beautiful red and yellow and orange leaves of fall, and I am reminded that change can be beautiful.
Second, the science behind the color change has to do with the tree preparing itself for winter and the eventual shedding of its leaves. This very simplistic explanation of the change in leaf color happens to deciduous trees every year before the leaves die, turn brown, and fall off. Yes, the green leaves have done what they were created to do for the tree and, when the time is right, they go out in a blaze of glorious color! It seems to me that the fall season shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.
Third, the colorful leaves on the trees remind me of a quote by Friedrich Nietzsche, which says, “Notice that autumn is more the season of the soul than of nature.” It is in this season that I find myself so very full of gratitude and hope! Indeed, it is a season of the soul for me.
It is in the leaves on the trees that I find much in the way to help me understand and live with my grief. Just as all of those deciduous trees have leaves, we all have grief. There is a certain amount of comfort in realizing that. I am not alone in my grief. There are basic components of grief that we all experience, though not to the same extent nor in the same ways. Whether we like it or not, whether we acknowledge it or not, grief has always been and will always be a part of our lives, individually and collectively.
If fall is a season that is all about change, grief is an emotion that is also all about change. Losses in life are about change. Each loss will produce a different degree of grief, and if our loss is of a special person in life, the grief may seem unbearable. Grief is the reaction we have to our loss. It’s the way we deal with our loss. The goal of grief is to help us move beyond our initial reactions to our loss and help us get to a place where we are able to live with our loss healthily.
If fall is a season that shows us how beautiful it is to let things go, maybe there’s a nugget of learning in that for us. Letting go seems to be difficult for anyone, for the most part. Finding someone or something in life that brings us a sense of fulfillment, purpose, contentment, and happiness is something we would rather hold onto than let go. This is especially difficult when it comes to relationships. The harsh reality is that, sooner or later, we have to let all things go, one way or another.
When we have to let go of someone we love, we may experience pain, anger, confusion, questioning, a sense of helplessness, a loss of purpose, and the list goes on and on. Each person’s experiences will be unique to their loss. In our grief work, we hope that we will come to a healthy place of seeing the beauty in letting go. Not in forgetting, for you never will, but in trying to gain a healthy perspective in the memories so that they will help you move forward rather than become stuck. This takes a lot of hard work and is something you have to choose to do each day.
Author Amit Ray said, “In every change, in every falling leaf, there is some pain, some beauty. And that’s the way new leaves grow.” Here at Hospice & Community Care, we want to support the changes and the letting go that you face in your life. We also want to support you as “the new leaves grow” in your life. Please give us a call if you need a listening ear or wish to join a support group to find support from and support others.
Lee Ann Livingston
Spiritual Care Provider
The Hospice & Hospice Team has a number of resources available for helping families walk through grief and loss.
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