I’ve mentioned a couple of times that I experienced a horrible/wonderful descent and initiation this past winter. There were many layers to the process (which I documented through hundreds of pages of journaling and may share more fully at some point), but for now I would like to share one key layer: grieving Everest’s transition away from home and into the world.

This is, of course, my transition as well, and, like the shadow of the wedding transition which I explored in The Conscious Bride all those years ago, is one that isn’t discussed nearly enough in common circles. Yes, we talk about empty nest. We talk a bit about midlife. But we don’t talk about the heart-wrenching grief of launching a firstborn into the world.

The 7-week apprenticeship with Night that grabbed me last November had much to teach me about a mother’s keening grief when a child leaves the nest. As I was tumbled in the darkness like a stone in a roaring river, the grief became softer, the edges less jagged until, several weeks into the journey, I noticed that I was at peace. Through the initiatory death-and-rebirth cycle that includes profound grief at the core, I had emerged able to cherish these last five months of Everest living at home full-time without the thought of saying goodbye in August sending me to my knees. The priestess of night and the birth canal of grief had led me to okay.

The grieving that overtook me was like nothing I had ever experienced, and I’m sharing a piece of it here for a couple of reasons:

First and foremost, while there is always more I can “teach” on anxiety and OCD, I’m finding that I’m more called to share than teach, which, for me, is a personal sharing of my heart and soul about how I navigate this world as a highly sensitive person.

Secondly, I’m often asked the question: How do I grieve? I spoke to this in an upcoming Gathering Gold episode on Grieving Unlived Lives (to be released next Friday), but I wanted to speak to it here from a different, more personal lens.

There are, of course, infinite ways to grieve. For me, layers of my grief find containment when I can find the words and imagery to hold the pain. The words become the womb inside of which the grief is held and alchemized into acceptance. There were many words that poured through me in those seven weeks. These were the first that helped me both start to make sense of the largeness of my broken-heart and also find the medicine that began to cradle my heart back together.

I hope they speak to something sweet and tender in you. I hope they help you grieve whatever it is that might need grieving. When grief is felt together, even virtually, more layers can move through.


November 17, 2022

Umbilical Cords

There is the one that will never sever, that will connect me to you and you to me no matter how far you fly and how deep I go.

And then there are the others that must be cut so that we can each travel toward our next birth. The skies that you will be exploring became fused with my fear, as if I’m the one that will be on those rockets staring out into black space or red sky.

Those skies are not my skies; They are yours.

My sky is blue light on this green planet.

My sky is radiant and familiar.

This dark that has gripped me – I hand it to you. I cut this umbilical cord, my son, so that you can explore the skies you long to explore, so that the darkness can hold you in the palm of her womb when I cannot.

B’yadcha afkid ruchim.

Into your hands I place his spirit.

This is not the first cord I have cut. The first was the night before you soloed. I spent the night in terror, dancing and wailing my way through. Prayer was a sturdy bridge, as were the women who have wailed these treacherous crossings before me as they sent their sons into the forest. They wept together, holding onto each other for dear life, collapsing to their knees onto the cracked earth. Us modern mothers are left in our great soft beds to wail alone. I rattled and prayed and cried and danced through that night so that you could soar the next day without a mother’s grief or fear hanging as deadweight on your wings.

The second cord seized then released when we stood together on a beach in Vancouver the night before your 16th birthday and you told me, with hesitation, that you wanted to be an astronaut. I lost my breath, but gave you my blessing. The night held the vastness of your dreams and the vastness of my fear, stars like gems helping us both navigate the enormity of what calls.

I cut the third cord when you fell in love and I was no longer the only sun in your orbit. You orient around another now, as it should be, spending evenings enraptured in each other’s arms. There are some days when I only see you for a few minutes. This new love happened quickly, and I found myself in the garden at the end of summer cutting back the plants and watering the soil with my tears. I grieve and cut so that I can bless you to explore these new realms: not sky this time, but the beauty of a young woman’s heart.

For your sake as well as mine, I cut these cords. So that we can both be free.

In the womb of a dark night, I grieve and cut the ones that must be cut so that we can each follow our myth: you into the galaxies of exploration in our vast sky, and me into the depths of the human psyche. Carl Jung once linked the two, naming both of us as explorers. In this sense, we are the same. The darkness calls to us both, waiting for us to unleash the light embedded within and bring this consciousness to others.

Before the first midwife cut the cord, she said, “You will never be as close as you are right now.”

Where is my midwife this time?

She’s in my therapist and my rabbi.

She’s in my sweetest husband.

She’s in my friends who are sisters.

She’s in my next-door neighbor who somehow sent her two sons into the world.

She’s in the ancient women who have walked this path before, who have held their anguished hearts and wombs in their hands and now reach through the centuries to hold mine.

She’s in the night, my steadfast mother, who holds me now in her dark breast at 5am as I write these words.

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