A Flood of Grief

1236528_10151670100343105_965359286_n Life seems so normal until a fire burns through your home, or someone you love is diagnosed with a serious illness, or you’re awaked at 6am by your cat uncharacteristically digging her claws into your toe until you get out of bed, pull back the curtains, and find the 500-year flood roaring through your backyard. Have you ever had a dream where a tsunami rises up a beach until it’s at your feet? That’s what this sight was like, except that it wasn’t a dream at all. It was the beginning of a story that is still unfolding, a test and challenge in our family’s life that we are walking through as best we can.

The next hour is a bit blurry. I remember yelling “Flood!” and my husband jumping out of bed. I remember my older son, Everest, asking if Tashi was okay and me explaining that it was her that woke me up. I vaguely remember my mother calling at 6:30am to ask if we were okay and to tell us to get to her as soon as possible. I remember packing our bags with my boys hanging on to my arms and legs like toddlers. I remember looking into my office closet where my dozens of journal are stored with document my life since age six and wondering if I would ever see them again. I remember walking downstairs and carrying Asher across the two foot swamp that had suddenly become our front yard while Everest carefully carried Tashi in her carrier. I remember the amazing neighbors who watched my scared boys as I went back inside a few more times, grabbing things like our insurance folder and our lockbox. I remember thinking, Is this really happening to me? 

My instinct was to get out of there as quickly as possible; my husband’s instinct was to save our house. He stood at the car window and told me that he needed to stay. I begged him to come with us, asking, “What more can we do?” as we watched a six foot wave of water pummel through our backyard and flood all the way to road. I could see he wasn’t coming, so we kissed goodbye. He said he would come in a few hours. It would be over thirty hours before we saw him again.

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My boys and I spent the first day in a state of shock. I cancelled my full day of clients and posted on announcement on Facebook as I knew I would need words of support. My husband texted me saying that he had ripped down our fence to create a dam that would help divert the water away from our house. He had several neighbors helping him, which brought me comfort that he wasn’t alone. He worked tirelessly all day trying to save our house. I knew he hadn’t eaten or had anything to drink, and urged him through texts to take a break and nourish himself, but he kept going, desperate to keep the waters at bay. It turns out that everything he did that day circumvented the waters. Miraculously, aside from the garage, our house is dry. But when he tried to get to us late in the day there were so many closed roads that he had to turn around and sleep at our friends’ home, who graciously welcomed him in.

The first night was hard. I slept squished between my two boys with our kitten sandwiched between my legs. I knew I wouldn’t sleep much, separated from my husband and thinking about the water rushing through our land and around our house. In the dreamlike state of half-consciousness, I found myself trying to understand the water, to insert myself into the flood and feel what it was feeling. Why are you here? My life is guided by a deep desire to learn, to understand. I think in symbols and metaphors, and what I felt that night was the Earth’s pain, a flood of grief roaring and raging down the mountainsides stripped bare of undergrowth because of too many fires. My husband said that when he was working in the backyard trying to save our house, the creek, which had surged to ten feet in height, looked and sounded like a dragon, waves and curves of water snaking through our yard, our neighborhood, our city, leaving destruction in its path. We say “the rivers raged” but we know that underneath the rage is always grief. The earth is grieving, and she’s leaving a torrent of tears in her wake.

Our beautiful earth has been grieving for many years now. A planet out of balance will exact its recourse, and that’s what we’re seeing with the extreme weather. If we thought we could dominate Earth and force her to obey the will of man, we were wrong. She is so much more powerful than anyone in the Western world mindset would like to admit. I’ve never been so close to a natural disaster. It was louder and more powerful than I could have ever imagined. I’ve tasted the inside of a flood. I’ve swam from a waking nightmare to a nighttime sojourn under those water. I’ve heard her heartbreaking and terrifying grief tumbling down mountainsides and drowning an entire city in her tears. It’s time we listen. It’s time we wake up.

The next morning, as I looked around our temporary home, I was struck by what I decided to grab in the half an hour or so I spent packing our bags. I forgot my husband’s socks and the kids’ toothpaste, but I packed a bag full of the objects that comprise our little altar before which Everest and I sit every morning to practice mindfulness and say prayers. I forgot extra food (which my husband blessedly remembered) but grabbed the three books that my spiritual teacher gave me at the end of our last meeting just a few days ago. Socks and food can be purchased fairly easily, but the sacred objects and books bring us peace and ground during this tumultuous, uprooting time. We can now sit in our morning ritual the way we do at home, and that will bring some sense of normalcy to the chaos. The objects and books seem infused with a numinous quality now more than ever, as if they’re carrying the wisdom of my teacher, my ancestors, my heritage. Grounded in something bigger than myself provides the deep knowing that we’re okay, we’re going to be okay, this is just a moment in time, this too shall pass, that our true refuge is not in our actual home but in the home deep inside ourselves, the timeless, infinite space that reaches out to those we love and says, “Here. Now. One. Love.”

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During those first few days, I knew that it was time to drink my own medicine and practice what I teach every day: to lean into the grief as it arises, to trust that hope and new possibilities always arise from destruction, to help guide my family through their manifestations of grief: pain, confusion, disorientation, loneliness, anger, frustration, and raw, unbridled sadness. For my kids, the grief comes out mostly sideways in the form of whining and grumpiness. I wish they would cry as we’re crying, but it isn’t that way for them yet. We’ll see what happens when we drive to the house for the first time, but for now they seem mostly okay. For the first couple of days Asher asked continuously when we were going home, and Everest was perseverating on a couple of items he wanted Daddy to rescue when he went back each morning to try to minimize the water damage. I was pleased to hear that Everest’s most precious item wasn’t a Lego or a Disney toy but the blue vase this his grandma made for him several months ago. Asher, on the other hand, just wanted his Buzz and Woody : ) (from Toy Story, which he saw once before we banned Hollywood and Disney movies from their daily diet two years ago).  But mostly they’ve adjusted to their new surroundings and are playing creatively, just as they always do. Asher has been busy creating new magic tricks and Everest built new wings so he could fly through the backyard.

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For my husband and I, the grief arrives in waves, as grief always does. My husband cried when he returned to the house on the third day to find it that our beloved creek, which we’ve honored and loved like a member of our family, had changed directions and was now surging through our backyard. I’m sure he’ll cry many more times as we wade our way through the long, wet road ahead.

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Like the waters raging down from the mountains, the loss floods up inside of me until it reaches a breaking point. I didn’t feel much of anything the first day or so; I was probably in shock and knew that I had to remain a strong fortress so that my boys didn’t fall apart. But as soon as my husband finally arrived on the second day, the tears welled up. My rock was here and I could now fall apart. I told him I needed some time, went downstairs, called my Carrie, and wept, sobbed into the phone. I haven’t cried that hard in a long, long time. Carrie and I used to hold that kind of space for each other on a regular basis in the pre-marriage, pre-kids years of our friendship. But now it takes a natural disaster of Biblical proportions to touch that place of broken-open pain. After a solid ten minutes, all I could say was, “The loss. The devastation. The beauty that’s been washed away.” Carrie breathed with me. She didn’t need to say a word. There are no words in that kind of grief. Words only clutter the pure container that allows grief to wash through. We know this, which is why we call each other when the dam breaks and the floods are here.

After that, I felt clear. Tired, overwhelmed, and sad, but clear. I was able to attend to my boys with focus and attention for the rest of the day. But that night, after they fell asleep, the grief bubbled up again. A text came through from Carrie:

Prayed long and hard tonight for you and for your community. May you know that you are protected, regardless of outer circumstance. That is my prayer (along with your house being dry as a bone). I’m with you my love in every way, especially in the Invisible where there are no structures, where there is only eternal life.

And I cried. Every time she texts me I cry. I cry when I read about the neighbors helping my husband at the house, or when I read the words of support on Facebook, or when I feel the gratitude that in the biggest picture we’re all okay. I cry when I see photos of our beautiful yard and sacred creek destroyed. I cry for everyone who is suffering as a result of this flood. I cry for everyone who is suffering as a result of any painful circumstances in their lives. This is what happens in grief: Your heart breaks open and you feel not only your own pain, but the pain of your community near and far. It’s a raw, vulnerable, soft, beautiful space. It’s why I’m always encouraging my clients to move toward it, not to fear it, that it’s through our grief that we can touch into our deepest connection to self, others and Spirit. It’s when we taste that we are all one.

Sometimes when I’m grieving I hear a quiet, faraway voice whispering, “Other people are suffering more than you. This isn’t such a big deal. Your house is fine so far.” It’s not a loving voice, and not a voice that springs from a spiritual source to guide me back to gratitude after the grief washes though, but the voice that steers us away from grief because it doesn’t believe and know that we can handle it. It’s like when I’m encouraging my clients to allow themselves to feel the pain of their past and the respond with, “But so many people had it so much worse; it’s not like I was sexually abused or something.” And then those who were sexually abused will say, “Other kids had it worse. At least it wasn’t someone I knew.” And for those who were abused by someone they knew… well, you get the picture. So I acknowledge the unloving voice, and then return to the grieving that only needs my love and compassion.

On the third night, my husband and I process in whispers after the boys go to sleep.

“Why? Why, when we’ve loved and honored our creek so much has it turned on us?” I ask. I know it’s irrational. I know that’s not the way life works, but I still feel it.

“Maybe it’s the shadow to all of this beauty we’ve been blessed to live with,” my husband wisely responds, reminding me of my own work. We speak the same language, which is one of the reasons I married him.

“But we’ve done rituals at the creek. We’ve cherished it. I write love poems for it. It’s not fair.” Still irrational, the part of me that wants control over the uncontrollable.

“Maybe the extent of the love is the degree of the shadow. Or maybe it’s just that our land is two feet lower than it should be.” Again, he’s wise and practical, spiritual and pragmatic. It’s what I love about him.

And when the questioning and attempts to control stop I bury my face in his shirt and weep. He holds me as he’s held me a thousand times, an island for my tears. This time, we weep together, holding each other up, knowing that the waters must pass through us if we’re to continue on with strength.

I’m often asked, “How do you grieve?” You grieve by surrendering to the pain that is living in your heart. You grieve by surrounding yourself by loving, strong people who can provide a container for you while you fall apart. You grieve by replacing the lies about crying – “What’s the point?” or “Crying is weak” or “Others have it worse” – with the truth, which is that the medicine of pain is to cry, and that it’s only through crying that the pain washes through and we find our way to strength and clarity. You grieve by writing, talking, praying, dancing, sleeping, sitting, and letting yourself be held.

And when the grief passes through, what’s simmered down is gratitude. It’s what I’m left with at the end of the day. I’m grateful that our kitty woke me up an hour earlier than normal. I’m grateful that our house is still standing. I’m grateful that my mother and her partner, after five years of trying to sell their home in Durango so they could live closer to us, moved here six weeks ago and have so warmly and graciously offered their home not only to us but also to our dear friends, who evacuated two days ago. I’m grateful for the volunteer firefighters who walked up and down my friend’s street to count heads (people and animals) and let them know when it was time to evacuate.

I’m grateful to the dozens of neighbors who helped my husband in so many ways: For Sharon and her husband, who were outside before I was even out, helping my husband, asking what else they could do, staying with my two scared boys as they waited in the car while I gathered a few last items, showing up for people with warmth and generosity who they’ve never met before. For Jessica, who sat in her truck that first night when my husband was working tirelessly to fill Whole Foods bags with silt and mud to create barriers to our home. She told him that there were flash flood warnings and that if he saw the water surging, to jump in her truck. She didn’t leave until she watched him get into his Jeep and drive away. For Rich, Dean, Jen, Max, Jason, Alan and so many others, most of whom we’ve never met before, who built dams, moved furniture and books off the first floor, helped my husband build pumps and drainage systems when the water filled our crawl space, and countless other acts of service.

I’m grateful beyond grateful, the kind of grateful that wells up in floods of tears and surges out from heart to throat to eyes, for our family. The love that flows between us is more powerful than any river. If we’re together, we’re home. Yes, our hearts ache for the devastation that has struck our beloved home and gardens and creek, for what has been lost and broken, but we know without a doubt there’s not a flood in the world that could break us apart. Home is where the heart is. Every time my husband walks through the door after spending the day trying to minimize the damage, he completes the structure that, with our boys, creates our home. We dwell under a canopy of love and unwavering commitment. We are blessed. We have a long, hard, muddy, overwhelming, and painful road ahead of us as we recover from this disaster. But we will walk through it together, holding hands and hearts, always.

74 comments to A Flood of Grief

  • Marybeth

    Even in the midst of disaster and grief, poignant and beautifully written.
    Sending well wishes your way Sheryl. So sorry this affected your family and home.

  • Jen

    I don’t think it has anything to do with you not honoring the creek enough or something, it’s “just” nature. Meaning, nature isn’t predictable. It’s a stronger and much more unpredictable force than we are and this was simply a reminder. I personally feel comforted by that thought; humans have lived side by side with nature forever, sometimes it destroys what we’ve built, other time it lets our crops grow. All we can do is re-build, not look for reasons, I think. In that we are part of nature – we should just go on.
    I’m glad your house was mostly spared and I wish you strength for the days to come.

  • Tamara

    What a beautiful story! While there is underlying sadness, it is the love and the hope that shines through. I can’t imagine two better people to seek shelter with than Margaret and Erika! Sending love and hugs as you and your family continue on this journey.

  • Sarah

    Gorgeous. Sending lots of love and sunshine to dry the land. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Samara

    I am so sorry for your loss. A home isn’t just a nice place to live. It’s a sacred place and it can feel like our whole world when we raise our family in it. It’s always easier to remember this when I’m not the one experiencing grief, so I will share a story that you may know…

    “There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit.

    ‘Such bad luck,’ they said sympathetically.

    ‘We’ll see,’ the farmer replied.

    The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses.

    ‘How wonderful,’ the neighbors exclaimed.

    ‘We’ll see,’ replied the old man.

    The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.

    ‘We’ll see,’ answered the farmer.

    The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.

    ‘We’ll see’ said the farmer.”

    • One of my favorite stories, Samara, and thank you for reminding me of it as I’m going to read it to my sons before we return to the house.

      If anyone else has parables like this one that may help my kids, please send them along!

      • Sheryl, your request for parables reminded me one of my favorites – and it is a fitting time for it, being so near Sukkot. I’ve cut and pasted a version of it that I found online.

        Sending you and your family so much love. I used to live on Fourmile Canyon Drive, and I am currently very far away in Berkeley, trying to feel through my own shock into the grief of this tragedy. I appreciate the realness of your words and emotions, thank you for helping me feel this a little more.

        “This too shall pass” – King’s Solomon parable
        “Solomon the powerful and wealthy king chooses to test his most loyal and trusted minister, Benaiah Ben Yehoyada, by asking of him an impossible task. The king asks Benaiah to find for him a ring, knowing full well that the ring does not exist, which has magic powers. “If a happy man looks at it, he becomes sad, and if a sad man looks at it, he becomes happy,” he tells him. He expresses his desire to wear the ring for Sukkot, which is six months away. After months of searching, Benaiah finds himself, the night before Sukkot, walking through the poorest neighborhood of Jerusalem. He happens upon a jeweler, who, when asked if he’s heard of such a ring, produces from his pocket a plain gold ring, to which he adds an engravement. Benaiah returns just in time on the eve of Sukkot to give the king the ring he has requested. When the king looks at the engraving, he reads four words: “gam zeh ya’avor”, which translates to, “This too shall pass” or “This too will pass”. At that moment, Solomon realizes that his wisdom, tremendous wealth, and power are fleeting things, for one day he will be nothing but dust.”

        Probably most of you already knew this story but I brought here to make us rethink.

        “This too shall pass” can be an uncomfortable phrase whether you are enjoying everything that you have in your life and it can be very comfortable whether you are passing for troubling days, but the most important point here is that it makes us stop and think; that we have to enjoy all good moments of our life, even more, the small nice things, the time with our family and friends, a smile, a laugh, our vacation days, our work, everything and be grateful for all things that make us happy. In the other hand we should realize that every time that we face a difficult situation in our life, sooner or later this too shall pass.

        copied from: http://theuniverseandthetime.blogspot.com/2012/02/this-too-shall-pass-kings-solomon.html

  • hangovergirluk

    Sheryl, just wanted to add to the chorus of prayers that I’m sure are heading your way. What a thing to happen, but thank you for staying with us through it all xx

  • NicksBeautifulBride2be

    This Story is so beautifully written, Sheryl. My heart and prayers go out to you, you are so strong in so many amazing ways. I am very happy to hear that you family is doing well, but very sorry to hear about your awe inspiring creek. But as you know, sometimes the hardest and darkest times in our lives allow us to grown and see our lives in a new way that we never thought possible. May God bless you and your family thought the rest of your healing process and be there for you in your time of need.

  • Stephanie

    Thank you for sharing your family’s difficult journey with us, and reflecting your raw emotion and feelings of loss. My heart goes out to all of you, and I will keep you in my thoughts…

    I never cease to be amazed by how timely and relevant your blog posts are to my own experiences. Ultimately, whether we’re talking about a raging river or the death of a loved one, LOSS IS LOSS. And it can pierce us to the very core. I too am experiencing profound grief after making the painful decision to have my cat put to sleep yesterday. I spent the better part of two weeks agonizing about her condition (she was diagnoed with advanced renal disease and cancer), and am now left to cope with the void that I feel from her absence, and the guilt I feel for not acting and potentially catching her illness sooner.

    Your comments about minimizing our own emotions perfectly captures how I handle grief and sadness: I only allow a little time to process my feelings before that very loud, unloving voice chimes in and says “ENOUGH. She was just a cat–stop crying and suck it up!” So I tamp down the sadness, but it’s still there. I’ve been tamping down my grief, anger and sadness for 35 years (starting when I was sexually abused at 8), so it’s no wonder I sometimes feel emotionally blocked. I contine to bounce between pain and numbness; now that I have a loving partner, I realize the how damaging this strategy has been to my emotional life.

    My boyfriend was right at my side yesterday when we put my sweet kitty to sleep–he cried with me, held me and gave me a wonderful soft place to express my grief. I let myself stay in his arms for awhile, but then I could actually FEEL my emotional walls going up. In my mind, vulnerability is equated to weakness, so I appreciate you recognizing the necessity of giving into the experience of leaning into the pain. My biggest fear is that my storehouse of pain and grief is so deep that if I attempt to process it all, I’ll become overwhelmed and paralyzed, but your words give me courage and hope.

    THANK YOU again for sharing your feelings so eloquently, and giving me a chance to learn about myself through your experience–sending good wishes to you and your family during this incredibly difficult time.

  • lalalove

    aw sheryl, this is so beautiful. thank you for sharing all of this with us. and thank you for writing about “how to grieve”. it’s so helpful. and also for writing about the excuses our WS uses to stop us from grieving. im so happy your house is going to be okay. i know you love that creek so much ( my whole life i have dreamed of living in a house with a creek!) and i know it must have been so scary. thanks again for taking the time in the midst of everything you are going through to write this.

  • Sheryl, I pray and wish you and your community strength through this difficult time. Your writing is so honest and full of beauty- thank you so much for all you do.

  • monalisa

    Sheryl, I’ve read just about every blog post you’ve shared over the last year. This is the most beautiful and touching thing I’ve read. I was in tears reading it. I pray that you continue on with the beautiful strength, faith, and love that has lifted you and your family up thus far. Thanks for sharing all your insightful wisdom. Blessings!!

  • anh

    Thank you for sharing your story, Sheryl, and for reminding us that its okay to grieve. Sending thoughts of peace and calm to you and yours.

  • Liza

    I’m so sorry to hear about your loss! Thank you for sharing your experience and revealing how you cope — spiritually and psychologically — with such a real-life crisis. You bless us readers with your insights and writing! I hope that your life returns to normal before long.

  • hopeful

    Sheryl – I have been thinking about you since I saw this on the news. Thank you for sharing your story. Sending your family and home love and support through this time.

  • Kate

    Continued prayers being sent your way. There are no words. I’ve seen snipts on the local news here and I’m overwhelmed by Mother Nature’s destruction in Colorado. I’m so thankful your property/home was mostly preserved, that your husband, children, precious kitten and dear friends are safe. May the grief continue as it leads you all down the path of healing and rebuilding. I pray the sunshine is strong and the air is dry. Many blessings to all and thank you for sharing your story. Xoxo, Kate

  • Kelly

    Sheryl, Thank you for sharing your grief…I wish you grace through the transition. Having gone through much loss in my own life, I was reminded of the echo, of how similar all grief is, regardless of the source. I hope then, that your experience will be similar, in that every loss opens up space in our hearts for new blessings, and every grey sky eventually yields to the sun. If I could do such a thing, I would send you peace.

  • JEA

    I am sending love and prayers your way Sheryl. Thank you, as always, for your beautifully written and life affirming words!!

  • Jared

    God bless you in this difficult time Sheryl!

  • Kellbell

    Sheryl, thank you so much for telling your story, it has literally brought me to tears. I am so glad that your house is okay, it sounds like your husband and neighbors did wonders! Bless his beautiful heart, and your community!

    You always teach us when we are in the midst of the storm to grieve, bring compassion to ourselves, to show loving actions to ourselves and to the ones we love. I can see in your story how important all of these are. I wanted to thank you again for all of your teachings and helping all of us when we are in need.

    Know that all of us ecourse members are here for you during your midst of the storm. Know that you, your family and community are in our thoughts and prayers. May God watch over all of you during this time in need. God bless you all.

  • Rae

    Sheryl:

    Thank you for sharing your personal story. I cried the entire time….for and with you and your family, for the knowing of what a natural disaster can do to the psyche even if you are lucky enough to walk away relatively unscathed, and for all the things your post allowed me to grieve.

    I appreciate you sharing your thoughts about nature grieving and being out of balance. I get that sense as well. There was something deeply sad about my Colorado hikes this year without the usual shady, green coverage of the pine trees. There was something disconcerting about the drive to the Denver airport the day the storms hit knowing this rain was different and frightening. There is something that bothers me in an unsettling way when I recall in the last year in just our country alone the devastation caused by tornadoes, wildfires, hurricanes, storms, and flooding. Some will argue that nature is just being nature, but I believe we cannot take human energy out of the equation.

    Thank you for reminding us how wonderful others’ energy can be as we heal from disasters and losses of all kinds, big or small. How it is just as important that we open our hearts to others’ efforts to help us grieve and heal. Whether family, friend, virtual stranger, or pet, the love and generosity that others show during these times makes me ache for that to be part of our everyday living and not just reserved for times of crisis.

  • Erin

    Dear Sheryl, Thank you for sharing your story. I was also brought to tears throughout reading this. I am deeply inspired by your courage, wisdom, and faith. Thank you. I am so sorry for your losses. Sending light, strength, and prayers to you and your family.

  • Jennifer

    Dear Sheryl, I thought of u n youly as I was watching the news, n hoped your family n hm were not affected. My eyes filled with tears as I read of what your fily is going through, n still u share the riches of your inner life in the midst of grief
    Sending u, family n community so much love, support n well wishes during this time. Ot feels true that the river flooding IS the grief of our Earth Mother. In a sense, none of us are immune from geeling the effects, although some as in the communities such as in CO have directly felt the outpouring of that grief. My hope is that u will remember this event is not a target for your family or community, but of the ways we r feeling the seismic shifts n effects of the healing process that must occur to restor her into wholeness. wishing for u the deepest Peace, Trust in all things, inner n outer support n shared caring for all those affected in your community. Thinking of you all. Namaste, Jennifer

  • David

    Sheryl,
    Beautiful words! Thank you for sharing your heart, your story and your family with us. As one who sees pain and trauma regularly for 20+ your grasp of yourself is wonderful to witness. You said, “…the medicine of pain is to cry, and that it’s only through crying that the pain washes through and we find our way to strength and clarity.” This true wisdom! It has taken many years for me to understand this. My prayers for you and your clan are simple, clear sky’s, warm sunshine, and the love that only togetherness can bring! Prayers and blessings!

  • gardenia

    Sheryl,

    Your writing always cuts to the core of what it means to be human, and this post does so with particular power. You touch on such a range of emotions here, from terror to grief to gratitude, and so beautifully. I’m so glad your house is going to be OK and I’m grateful for you for all the amazing family members, friends, and neighbors helping to support you amid the chaos.

    Also, “My husband texted me saying that he had ripped down our fence to create a dam that would help divert the water away from our house.” Sheesh, your hubby is one courageous dude. And his words about the creek… wow.

    Wishing everyone in your vicinity sunshine and as smooth a recovery as possible.

    • “Also, “My husband texted me saying that he had ripped down our fence to create a dam that would help divert the water away from our house.” Sheesh, your hubby is one courageous dude. And his words about the creek… wow.”

      No kidding, gardenia! Your comment made me laugh : ).

  • Lindsey

    sending love and light to surround you and your loved ones. <3

  • Teri

    Sheryl, thank you for sharing your painful experience with us. I send my love to and your family and I thank the Spirit for keeping you whole. I will keep you in my prayers as you work to reassemble your lives.

    Sincerely,
    Teri

  • Georgina

    Such a devastating time for your family, so sad to hear, but what a blessing that you have such a strong foundation together which will help you through it. Thinking of you all. & well done to your kitty for raising the alarm :)

  • Sharan

    Thank you for sharing such a powerful article. My heart goes out to you and everyone else who had to go through that experience. Life has a funny way…

  • Rae

    Sheryl,

    My heart breaks for the pain you, your family, and community are feeling.

    While, unfortunately, there are many lessons to be learned from or reminded of due to this horrible flooding, this experience is gifting us, your readers, with a whole different side of YOU- a deeper sense of you. As a loyal reader and incredibly grateful client, it’s humbling to see you “walk the talk”: to hear your stories of walking THROUGH the pain instead running from it, to hear that someone so wise and balanced still experiences the fear and grief like the rest of us, to being a model of making oneself vulnerable, to be reminded that we’re all here on Earth, taking the same journey, only on different paths.

    Much like the horse parable, but within the context of the professional you and your lovely blog- perhaps this was, in some way, a gift from the Earth.

    Thinking of you and your family, and sending love.

    • Thank you, Rae. And I feel privileged to write for such a supportive, generous community. I’m not sure if I would have written our story without my blog, and it’s through writing that I process, grieve, and heal. I’m very grateful.

  • Sarah

    So sorry to hear about the loss, but glad you’re processing and finding courage and strength to face your grief. I’m glad you and your family are safe, and pray your house continues to be undamaged! You’re a blessing to us, and it’s beautiful to see you practicing what you write about!

  • Karen

    Sheryl,

    In the midst of your pain, thanks for reminding me to feel my feelings of loss and not fight them off with comparison to the losses of others. And thanks for reminding me that in feeling the pain the of my losses, I open my heart to grieve with others, instead of comparing myself to them. Sending love and prayers.

  • Michelle89

    Sheryl,
    This post caused me to become a little choked up- as I could relate to the feelings you have been experiencing. If I had ready this a month ago, I may not have understood as deeply as ido today; after going through my own share of storms.
    It’s amazing how the unpredictable storms of life can impact us in such beautiful ways if we choose to allow them to. I admire how you see the beauty in each situation and find meaning in the difficult moments- tht is why you’re so good at what you do. It sounds like you are blessed with a wonderful family and friends. Thanks for sharing!

  • Clara

    News of the Colorado floods only travelled to Australia yesterday, and I have been thinking of you and your family. I had no idea until now that you were personally affected. Your grace wisdom and the community that you’ve nurtured is so clear from you writing. My prayers, and strongest wishes for recovery are with you all.

  • sahmpaw

    I love the Taoist story! Reminder that sometimes we have to just witness and observe what’s going on around us. And not analyze it to death; easier said than done. Sometimes tragedy is a blessing in disguise or part of the great unfolding. As my husband likes to say “you still have to live your life”. I take comfort in hoping/knowing there will be answers when it’s my time to go to the other side.

  • Laura

    Sending you love and support from afar, as you have done many times for all of us. You’re in my thoughts as you work your way through this in your ever graceful mindful manor. Thank you for sharing your lessons. Please feel our spirit with you now more than ever.

  • Jen

    Sheryl,Thank you for shining through with your realness,allowing the tears to flow,pain to wash over and out.This article is your most powerful one ever to me…coming from your absolute core to my own.I feel very sad about all that has happened and agree about the larger context in which you place it.There is nothing more sacred than being with someone as they grieve their true grief.

  • Chelsea

    Tears came to my eyes as I read this. You help so many people each and every day an many people are praying for you and your family. I will be praying and sending thoughts your way.

  • Catherine

    I am inspired by your words and how grief, gratitude, and your deep connection to this earth as something that is bigger than all of us has protected you and your family.

  • cynthia

    Dear Cheryl, thank you so much for taking the time to write so eloquently and share your deep and in-the-moment truth with us. i am deeply touched. holding space and sending love ~ cynthia

  • erica

    what amazing strength you have and your family as well. your story was so raw and full of revelation i will keep it to remind me of the path of grief. thank you so much for sharing so richly your experience and feelings and process. it was really illuminating and richly told. your in my prayers as is your community i hope the beauty of the land is merely transformed but never lost. blessings and love erica

  • Amaryllis

    I had no idea that CO was affected also. Thank you for sharing your story and struggles with us. I offer my prayers and wishing you and your family warmth and strength during this difficult time.

  • TM

    Thank you for sharing your grief with this community of readers and for your courage and honesty which is helping all of us to share in our humanity with more respect and support for the Land and the Senitient beings that inhabit it.

  • Kathleen

    Thank you, Sheryl for your beautiful words and insight into the natural disaster that you are “living thru”. I will share your words with all my friends as I think you have expressed the process of grief in such a clear and succinct way. Most importantly, I send you and your family my love and prayers.

  • Maxine

    “Words only clutter the pure container that allows grief to wash through. ”

    My prayers are with you and your family. This line from your post has taught me what to say when others are grieving. I only need to be a presence of love and light. God bless you.

  • Hopefulthishelps

    Wow. What a powerful story. You sound like such a wonderful mother and partner. Your husband sounds wonderful – along with your entire community. I love how you and your family are so open to emotion. Thank you for sharing this beautifully written story. I will continue to think healing thoughts for you and your community.

    What a wonderful blessing your house is okay!!

  • Laura11

    Sheryl, I’m sorry about the damage to your home, but knowing that you and your family are doing well brings peace to this all. Sending you prayers and love during this time.

  • Zephyr

    Thank you for taking the time to share your journey even amidst all the chaos you and your family have experienced in this tragedy. I so appreciated your beautiful description of how “going into the loss” was a way to experience the pain, a release, a path to clarity and ultimately guided you toward gratitude. To me, one of the most poignant religious icons is Shiva, The Destroyer and Creator. And your grief, just like this flood, was a force of destruction. But through destruction, something new was created, your clarity and gratitude. Something new will be created from this, something that will demand the same awe as mother nature herself.

  • Cheryl

    From one Cheryl to another Sheryl, my heart goes out to you and your family. Thank you for sharing your story in a way that digs deep down into my soul. touches the core within knowing that we are all connected and going through this together. We will all keep our light shining brightly to dry up your saturated land and dry your grieving tears. Feel the love, know the love, BE LOVE. Remember… be in the world, but not of it. Namaste.

  • Thank you, each and every one of you, for your thoughtful, heartfelt words. I feel you around us as we walk through this unimaginably painful and simultaneously beautiful process of destruction and, ultimately, renewal. Thank you.

  • Amy

    May the love you have poured into your counsel return to you a hundredfold.

  • Sheryl,

    I had been so disconnected from the media, that it was in a conversation with your mother that I first learned of the floods in CO. And I am only now reading your story of how the floods and your grief have altered the course of your life. I was moved to tears as I read your story.

    Please know that you have more support and love surrounding you than you can even imagine. Even from people like me who have not yet met you directly, but who even so are touched by you. I always find myself moved by your openness and vulnerability and honesty and willingness to live your life with an open heart and a commitment to learn and to serve. All of that comes through every time you write. Sending you love from California.

    with love,
    Carla

  • Sarah

    For the good that you do, may many good things come back to you, see you through disasters to.

  • lindsey

    Sheryl, this post brought me to tears…. again. I am always so excited to see new blog entries, and this one was so moving. I recently saw the flooding on the news here in Aus, and i immediately thought of you. Sending you all my love and prayers during this difficult time, and know that you have the love and support of the many thousands of people that you have touched around the world. It is nice to be able to send you love and support and reciprocate all that you give us.
    xx

  • Anne

    Dear Sheryl, how I love that your post seems to be mostly about gratefulness and love and connection. It is truly big to be writing what you wrote, in the face of such devastation, grief and sadness. I love your strength, I love your sharing your story with us, and I love that I am able to feel gratefulness that way too sometimes. I wish you and your family (as well as everyone suffering the consequences of this flood) continuous support, love and strenghth and a quick return to home and to regular normality, playing with your kids, getting back to everyday life and work. Respect to your husband!! He is truly a loving provider and huge support! Lots of love – Anne

  • Bre

    I work in emergency preparedness and came to this field from social justice and people always ask me why I switched. There are a lot of reasons but its mostly because I think disasters peel away at us and leave us bare with who we really are. Its a great place to find yourself, to face fear, learn to lose everything, find community and begin to put it all back together. Disasters, more than anything I have encountered, build community from a humble place. Imagine the flood waters just erased your canvass and its time to start all over. It can be scary as much as it can feel like freedom if you choose to let it.

  • ildiko

    Sheryl, when my son died two years ago, the grief did and continues to do open my heart and I since feel the Oneness of us all living on this Planet of Broken Hearts. The Loss and the Grief is also a Gift (my son’s name meant: Gift of God), a Gift of a Compassionate Heart.
    We ARE waking up and grieving together w/ our Beautiful Earth.. seeing our state and the state of our Planet / Home / Nurturer .. it’s so very sad .. and yet there is HOPE .. my son sent a rainbow on the day of his transition arching right through the west .. and sent the words “It’s Alright” in a message through my friend.
    I also hear a lot of Menopausal women “flooding” in more unusual ways and numbers.. we are made from the Earth.. our bodies are the Earth.. floods and fires (hot flushes).. we are transitioning into a “New Earth”.. Blessings to you and your loved ones.. <3

  • Leaf

    Sheryl dear, thank you so much for wonderful lines to remember always, in the above post and ‘Guiding Children’. ‘The medicine of pain is to cry.’ ‘Crying gets the sad out.’ Thank you for your honesty about irrational things you’ve said and invalidating words you’ve heard. Thank you for sharing about how you’re having to ‘drink your own medicine’. If crying is the medicine of pain, the picture is of you drinking your tears – like Alice in the pool of tears http://www.cs.indiana.edu/metastuff/wonder/ch2.html. Perhaps you and your family can find some fun in this picture. Wishing you well (well and happy, a well of happiness in this happenness).

  • Thank you, Leaf. I love the image of Alice in the pool of tears.

  • September

    Sheryl,

    I appreciate so much how you take the time, even at the height of your own intense grief, to write and think of others. This is how I trust what you say at the end, that you and your family will walk through anything together. Your posts mean so much. I hope you and your family are doing much better now.