The Grief and Joy of Letting Go

by | Aug 9, 2020 | Parenthood transitions | 78 comments

Our firstborn son turns sixteen tomorrow. I started writing this blog when he was five, and some of you have followed my parenting journey since then. I know it’s as cliché as it gets, but honestly… I don’t know where the time has gone.

Wasn’t he just a little boy grieving about his last day of being six?

 

 

 

 

 

And then he turned ten, and I wrote about our yearly ritual of walking the labyrinth as a way to mark the passage of time.

 

 

 

 

 

In the blink of an eye he turned fourteen and soloed for the first time in a plane.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And now he’s turning sixteen, almost a man, one step away from earning his pilot’s license. One more step toward his path and dream of traveling into space. “Higher, faster, farther is the motto in aviation and space,” he told me one night last week as we sat under the stars for our summer pre-bedtime ritual.  “Well, that certainly sounds like you,” I replied, my eyes filling with tears of pride and grief as they have so many times this past week.

The conversation continued. “How did you know that you wanted to be a pilot?” I asked.

“I would see the moon when I was little and I wanted to go there. I always wanted to be in the sky.”

“And now you’re one step closer to that dream.”

He had just passed his private pilot’s written exam the day before. He studied all summer, hours every day, for the test is arduous and if he didn’t pass he wouldn’t be able to get his pilot’s license this week, as he fervently hopes to do. This road has not been straightforward (few paths in life are), and he’s had to overcome many obstacles over the years to be able to sit for that exam. But he did it. His passion lit the fire that would see him through the challenges.

“Moon was one of your first words,” I reminded him.

“I know,” he said.

And now he’s turning sixteen.

Our kids’ transitions are their own. They cross thresholds first from the womb into babyhood, from babyhood to toddlerhood, then becoming a little kid, a tween, a teenager, a young adult. But their transitions are also our transitions. Every time they leave a stage behind, we both grieve and gain a piece of our own independence back. We ache and celebrate, long and release, weep from loss as much as from pride. Parenting, like life, is a paradox at every turn, holding the polarities of emotion in the pocket of the heart every day.

Because of my lifelong interest in transitions, I’ve carried the philosophy that the more we grieve and let go on the front end of a transition – during the engagement, the pregnancy, while packing up the boxes, before the graduation, the day before a birthday – the more present and celebratory we can be on the transitional day and on the other side. For transitions are not only about grief and loss; we grieve the losses so that we can celebrate the joys. With my kids, the more I allow myself to grieve before their birthdays or milestones, the more joyful I can be for and with them as they make these essential crossings.

And so I process my grief. I write. I talk to friends. I cry. I weep. I ache. I dance. I feel the sweet moments when the tears well up from my soul and I allow them to move through me. Sweet tears of loss that speak to the depth of my love.

Here’s the heartbreaking contract of parenting: We devote ourselves in every way to nurture the spirit of our child so that their light shines as brightly throughout their life as it did on the day they were born. We tend and ache and sacrifice and weep and give and give and give even when our own well has run dry so that our children will not only grow into adulthood with hearts intact and minds ablaze but so that they will surpass us. This is, in fact, how the human race evolves: each generation outshines the one before. We guide them into the world while fighting against the impulse to keep them at home, tucked inside our arms forever.

Robin Wall Kimmerer writes about this beautifully in Braiding Sweetgrass:

“I had known it would happen from the first time I held her – from that moment on, all her growing would be way from me. It is the fundamental unfairness of parenthood that if we do our jobs well, the deepest bond we are given will walk out the door with a wave over the shoulder. We get good training along the way. We learn to say, “Have a great time, sweetie” while we are longing to pull them back to safety. And against all the evolutionary imperatives of protecting our gene pool, we give them car keys. And freedom. It’s our job.”

It’s true: the letting go happens in stages. I remember when he was a baby and I held him in my arms and wept because I knew he would leave in eighteen years. It seemed far and close, and now it’s closer still. At every small stage of becoming more separate – his first tooth which indicated that he could eat solid foods and would not longer be solely dependent on my milk, when he first walked, which meant walking away from me – I wept from grief and pride.

When he first realized he wanted to be a pilot, I was terrified and proud, but I had time to wrap my mind around it. At thirteen, he started his glider training. At fourteen, he soloed. Somewhere in there he realized that it wasn’t only that he wanted to be a pilot. His passion for exploration extended into outer space, and he started to hint here and there about wanting to become an astronaut. Everything inside me screamed NO. Wasn’t the sky enough? But it wasn’t enough, and I could see him wrestling between wanting to protect me and wanting to listen to the flame of his calling. It was on his fifteenth birthday last summer that I explicitly said to him, “I support you doing whatever you want to do, going wherever you want to go.” He would have done it anyway – he didn’t need my permission – but I wanted him to know that I would support him in every way I could to help him realize his dream of becoming an astronaut.

At the heart of attachment parenting lives the wisdom that the more you attend to your child’s needs and attune to their temperament, the safer they will feel to stretch their wings and fly. I just didn’t think my child would want to fly to the moon and dream of being on the first mission to Mars! He can dream of exploring our solar system because he knows that his dad and I will always hold the other end of the umbilical cord. He’s free to fly away because he knows he can always come back to his safe base. We’ve given him a bright green light that says, “We’ll feel sad when you go but we support you to go. Go as far as you want. Follow your dreams. We will always support you and love you.”

But when they do fly away – when the son of your womb, the one who you walked back and forth across a deck in Los Angeles in the middle of the night because the only thing that would soothe him was the sight of the moon, when this child takes their first professional step into the world that he dreams will land him on that same moon one day – you burst from grief and pride and you weep.

When he passed the written exam last weekend, I could not look at him without my eyes filling with tears: tears of more-than-pride (“pride is not the word I’m looking for,” says Lin-Manuel Miranda in Hamilton) and tears of grief. And when my son, ever attuned to the subtlest nuance of expression on my face, asked me, “Are you sad?” I said, “I’m so proud of you and I’m so sad for me. But you don’t have to take on my sadness. It’s mine. It’s part of being a parent.”

A grief swept through me that day that I have not known in a long time. The grief of mothers who carry a bit of their child always in their body, perhaps a few of their cells left behind in the womb. The grief of mothers who know that our time in this form is limited, that in three years he will leave the nest and literally – quite literally – fly away.

That night I reached for my husband; he knows most closely what I was feeling for he, too, both revels and aches for Everest’s growing up. We held each other and reminisced about how we got here. I cried and cried again. He held me, his own tears silent but there beneath his words and streaming through his arms wrapped around me. Our son, our firstborn, one step away from fulfilling the dream he’s carried his entire life. There are no words. And still I try…

Today, the day before his birthday, I tend closely to my heart so that tomorrow there will only be tears of joy when he crosses the threshold of his sixteenth birthday. I will celebrate as my firstborn son soars into the slipstream of his calling, as he flies into the sky and possibly, one day, to the moon… and beyond.

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78 Comments

  1. Sheryl this is so beautiful! Such an interesting article to read as I go through a different transition but a difficult time none the less. My partner and I are having to go long distance for the next several months and that transition has stirred a lot of anxiety about the rightness of our relationship. I have never felt confident enough to comment, but after reading your articles I feel great comfort. However, I am terrified that I feel too bored or bothered too often for the course to help me…he really is a wonderful man but now I find myself stuck more than ever before. Your articles continue to bring me so much joy as I have been a long time reader, but I am unsure if him and I are doomed because of these negative feelings…..

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    • Dear Sar,
      I would like to tell you that you are not alone in the transition. Also being relationship-anxious, I’m moving house with my fiance next week! What a huge step – no more parents within the reach of our hands, everyday life issues, possible financial difficulties… Anyway, coming back to the subject: I have also been more anxious and nervous for the last 2 weeks or so. Still searching for red flags in our relationship, and fighting with thoughts such as “something terrible will pop up just on the edge of our moving the new house, he will prove to be a monster, and I will have to leave”. Truly, I believe that what forces you and me to think what we have been thinking lately, is the FEAR of transition. I’m sure that if you had time to dig through all the comment sections on Sheryl’s site, you would find other People sharing exactly your anxiety. Despite being scared to death, I would encourage you not to give up on him so quickly. Why do you think you must be “doomed” if he is a great person and you really seem to care (otherwise you wouldn’t be posting your comment) about your relationship? I understand that you will be living far away from each other, am I right? My 7-year old niece would say: “if you don’t try, you will never know!”. I’m sending you lots of strength and understanding, you are not alone here!

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      • Thank you! I guess I’m just not sure if the feelings of feeling irritated and bored and then even the frequency of the feelings are normal or not….this is where I’m curious if the course will help me or not?

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        • The Break Free From Relationship Anxiety course would help you enormously, Sar. If you’re on the fence, read through some of the testimonials and know that whatever your spike is you’re not alone and you’re not the exception.

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          • Thank you:) I’m just scared that these feelings of boredom and irritation are red flags?

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          • Sheryl another beautiful post which I’m sure also came to you by the feelings in the universe due to schools due to start in the autumn which to parents is a clear milestone and reminder of one year older and one year closer to leaving.
            Until I found your work I always used to think I was weird with regards the feelings I had about the relationship and general feelings I had about my child. I remember having to hold it together when I agreed to ear piercing. They had wanted it for over 18 months and I felt grief at the idea that I was essentially paying somebody to mutilate and deform the perfect being that I’d grown.
            I felt it this summer when they asked the inevitable, “can I go out on my bike by myself”; they no longer needed me. Conversely today the child told me they’d love it if they could clone me so that I could always be with them, so I was available for hugs anytime day and night
            When I feel the grief emotion is stuck with regards the child hitting a milestone I listen to Abba’s ‘Slipping through my fingers’ and it gets it moving with the generation of tears for 5 minutes or so, then some gratitude work on what I’m thankful for with regards parenting and that I have the opportunity to experience it after many years of trying to concieve refills the well that little bit more.
            Once again, thank you for your work.

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            • Beautiful reflections, Donna. Thank you. xoxo

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        • I don’t know you, but I think there’s a good chance that the course WILL help you. I was the same way, with a wonderful man but plagued with anxiety about the “rightness” of it – and we too were long distance for a long time. Now, I’m happily married to that same man and I credit the happiness I have now to taking Sheryl’s course and being able to open up and choose love. It was life-changing for me. I can’t recommend it highly enough! If you’re thinking, “but what if I’m different, or what if I’m exception?” Then I’d say – take the course. We all think we’re the exception, and it’s only fear that tells us that.

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        • The ache of having lived with a man that has an unacknowledged mental illness causes me more grief than I can stand – the wasted years of always putting him first rather than my beautiful tender hearted only child, my son, that I waited sooo long to bring into this world. Walking on eggshells and accommodating his father all these years only to find out that removing him is the only way to peace. And that itself will bring more turmoil and less peace than ever imagined.
          Anyone and everyone reading this at this moment, please pray for the mentally ill, for the children, and the mothers that are responsible for holding the family together …
          and me.
          The grief for the past and what will become are insurmountable.

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          • And Happy Birthday to your son!

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          • I’m so sorry for your pain. Sending prayers.

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          • Serafina, my heart aches for you and your family. I took a year to discern marrying my husband and Sheryl’s book, “The Conscious Bride,” fully prepared me. How was I to know he was so mentally ill? He hid it until we were married.

            I filed divorce June 9th. My health, my spirit, even my trust in God are completely shattered. I haven’t seen him in eight months. He’s stonewalled me since just before last Christmas.

            Oh how my heart breaks for you, sweetheart. Please know you’re held tenderly in my prayers. I’ll be praying for your child and especially your husband. No one ever asked to be mentally ill.

            You’re not alone, I’ve got you covered in prayer.

            I still believe in miracles, I just don’t know what they’ll look like anymore.

            And thank you, Sheryl, for sharing so poignantly what a mother goes through. I grieve the years I lost with this man and had I left sooner I might have had another opportunity instead of being childless.

            I wish you could have mothered my husband. He wouldn’t have suffered the abuse at the hands of his parents. Your story is so tender and touching, your son is so blessed to have you as his mother.

            Thank you for sharing so vulnerably, both you and Serafina.

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        • Dear Sheryl

          I’ve been waiting for this post!

          I am a delayed reaction kind of person and this year I have finally suffered extreme grief from my children being grown up.

          It honestly didn’t hit me until I realised my youngest would not be coming back after graduation. It’s so interesting to read about grieving beforehand so that you are happy on the day. I don’t know if I will ever be like that but I will certainly try in future!

          This year is hard in so many ways, with Covid, midlife transition, the return of relationship anxiety and grief about old wounds. I didn’t expect empty nest syndrome too!

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    • Sheryl, you give me the chills when I read your experiences so beautifully dedicated to expressing your emotions, it is so amazing to be guided through your experiences with such honesty, rawness, respect and embrace.
      I am most appreciative of the way you express your humanity – the fullest of it as you can manage to do so lovingly – and to be able to realize through your writing how even the hardest of our moments and emotions, the ones we tend to keep shoved down, hidden from the world, can be embraced and expressed with such honesty and respect, I can’t find another word for you while trying to express how much you are incredible.
      You respect your experiences and you inspire me so much, I just wanted you to know how much it is appreciated because you offer me the space to do the same to myself, and trust me, I learn a lot from your experiences, from the way you express yourself, your honesty, your humanity.
      It touches me to the wounded parts of me that I’ve got hidden but keep pushing back to the surface and you make me tender to my emotions and experiences, no matter how difficult they may have been, you show me there’s a space and respect and love for even the most painful things us humans experience.
      While I try to cope with a lot of things in my life which definitely isn’t easy, intrusive thoughts, unprocessed grieves and etc you soothe me knowing that even though things haven’t been the way I expected, even with my stubbornness, I can learn to let go so respectfully and lovingly as you do, embracing the perceived unfairness of my unrealised idealisations, and that even though it hurts like hell, there’s a way to doing this that for me, at many times, feels impossible.
      You give me the courage and privilege to learn so much about myself and my experiences, and even though I can’t do it on my own – which scares me the most to share because I feel nobody would understand me and possibly most potentially abandon me for it – it is great to know there are people like you out there who honour existence so fearlessly! 💖
      Thank you from the bottom of my heart, I appreciate your existence and your humanity 🥰

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      • This is so very beautiful to read and receive, Diego. Thank you and many blessings to you!

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  2. or if the anxiety courses could help me….

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    • So cool that you quoted Braiding Sweetgrass, since I just started reading it yesterday!

      I’m getting married next weekend, and these past few days my fiance and I have both cycled through lots of emotions – excitement, nervousness, disappointment. My fiance especially is disappointed, because 3 of his 4 groomsmen had to drop out last minute (thankfully I have 3 brothers to step in, but it’s still a bummer). He’s been grieving the wedding that could have been, as am I, as covid doesn’t produce ideal weddings… But I know, through my familiarity with your work, that after sitting with those emotions, we leave more room for joy on the other side.

      Happy birthday to your son, and may you have a joyful celebration tomorrow! 💓

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      • Many blessings to both of you as you cross over this threshold, and of course I love hearing that you’re approaching all of your emotions with compassion ;).

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  3. I feel this grief as we move forward as a family during these strange times, my heart is filled with sadness and a want to hold tight as my youngest daughter returns to creche tomorrow and mt twin girls start primary school in two weeks. I ache for time to stand still so I can keep them with me. Thank you as always for your beautiful words….I breath in your grief as well as my own and hold it in my heart x

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    • Dear Sheryl, thank you for sharing ypur heart in this transition. Your son is blessed to have a mother & father that love him so much, and give him space & support to pursue his dreams. Wishing you faith on your journey, all the wisdom you have taught–may it come up to buoy you during this time of joy & loss. 🌺🌿💖🙏

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    • Katrina: Yes, we can breathe into our shared grief together. Sending you love.

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  4. Such a beautiful post Sheryl and how lucky your son is to have a mother and father who supports his passion – you literally love him to the moon and back 😉❤

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    • Oh, I love that: literally to the moon and back!

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  5. Dear Sheryl,
    So beautiful and potent and important and filled with grace and wisdom all at once. Always. Sheryl, thank you. with love and gratitude, Julie

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    • 1. Sheryl, you’re work is incredible. I’ve been suffering and googling for many years now and finally stumbled upon your work through another desperate google
      Attempt. Thank you is all I will say.

      2. I’m starting to potty train my oldest daughter tomorrow and I have felt so sad (to let go of my baby in diapers) and so happy that this will give her the Independence she needs.

      You are what our culture desperately needs for a wake up call.

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  6. Such synchronicity, this is the second post I’ve had in my mailbox today on letting go…..

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    • I think we’re always being asked to work on letting go and never more so than during personal and global transitions.

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  7. Dear Sheryl,

    Sending love to you as your son transitions into his passion and sending you love on your transition into allowing him to flourish into his passion. You are such an incredible Mother and human being!

    With love,
    C

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  8. So beautiful, Sheryl, this resonated deeply with me and brought me to tears. Pregnant with my second and recognizing how fast the time has gone by with my first, who will turn 2 soon. Time feels like quicksand. The saying that, for parents of young kids, “the days are long but the years are short” rings so true to me. I know that before I know it my son will be spreading his wings away from us. It’s already happening in small things, like asserting himself to make choices. These moves to independence are good and healthy – I’m so proud that my son is developing his own voice! And yet, I constantly toggle between cherishing the moment I’m in, and mourning the moments I’ve lost – with my son, and with my aging parents. It’s intense to feel this deeply but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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    • It’s so good to hear from you, Maya! Time is, indeed, like quicksand,, and the best we can do is name it, grieve it, and allow our grief to keep returning us to joy, grace, and gratitude. Sending you love.

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  9. Ahhhhh, beautiful. Just beautiful. I was weeping the entire time. From a mother with two little ones, my heart aches for you now and for me down the road. Sending you and your family virtual love.

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    • Sending the love right back to you!

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  10. So cool that you quoted Braiding Sweetgrass, since I just started reading it yesterday!

    I’m getting married next weekend, and these past few days my fiance and I have both cycled through lots of emotions – excitement, nervousness, disappointment. My fiance especially is disappointed, because 3 of his 4 groomsmen had to drop out last minute (thankfully I have 3 brothers to step in, but it’s still a bummer). He’s been grieving the wedding that could have been, as am I, as covid doesn’t produce ideal weddings… But I know, through my familiarity with your work, that after sitting with those emotions, we leave more room for joy on the other side.

    Happy birthday to your son, and may you have a joyful celebration tomorrow! 💓

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  11. Sheryl, this made me cry. Thank you. I love your personal posts, and learning from your approach to parenting. The past few months have been challenging on the parenting front from me – with my twin 4yo boys at peak naughty, my 1yo daughter beginning to walk, and all of us being confined to our home for now months on end as Melbourne experiences a second wave more serious than the first. I have not been the present, attuned, grateful parent that I want to be – I have just been so wrung out. Your post reminded me that there is an irreducible need for space and inner work in order to be able to fulfil our roles are parents. A recalibration of priorities is in order. I love you and the example you provide to us all for fully conscious living. Thank you, thank you, thank you! And happy birthday Everest! (PS – do you ever wonder whether you instilled his instinct of reaching for the stars when you named his Everest? ;-))

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    • I love you, too, dear Clara ;). And YES: my husband and I both believe that names impart energy! We didn’t think it through when we named him but clearly his spirit guided the choosing of his name.

      Oh, how we’re all suffering under the weight of this pandemic. We’re wrung out, worn out, depleted. May we bring great compassion to ourselves and trust that this is in service of a bigger – and much needed – global awakening. Sending much love to all of you.

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  12. I started getting into your work when I was engaged, it seemed so relevant and real then – now I am a mother of two. And you’re work, your words, still wake my soul and have my tears streamind down my face. You have such a beautiful healing light, that is relevant at ANY stage of life. Thanks as always, for sharing this.

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    • Oh, this is so beautiful to read and receive. Thank you.

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  13. Oh, Sheryl. What a beautiful post. It had me weeping from the start and all the way to the finish.
    Others may have mentioned, but how synchronous that you named your future astronaut, Everest, as he has always been reaching for the stars. Happy Birth Day to you.

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  14. Wow, I could not hold back the tears, I honestly couldn’t name anything in particular why, just feeling the feelings of being a mother. My children are 4.5 and 2, and I am newly pregnant. I am grieving the life we’ve so joyfully lived with just our two children so far. I didn’t really want to get pregnant, it was a surprise. And a large part of me still doesn’t want to do it just yet… thank you for giving me permission to grieve for it.

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    • Let the tears flow. They’re healing and medicinal, even if we don’t fully understand them.

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      • Sheryl, I too have always felt the grief right along side the joy of every milestone in my children’s lives .Every transition , large or small marked time getting closer to when they would grow up and be gone. I am older than you and so my children have grown into beautiful human beings living their own lives . The saying goes, ” There are two lasting bequests we give our children…one is roots and the other is wings.” Letting them fly high and free has always been, by far, the harder part for me

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  15. I cried reading this, so beautiful. I’m not yet a mother but I am in the process of trying, and I can already sense how motherhood is a process of letting go. I sense myself grieving things lately, ever since I turned 30 late last year. I always find your blog posts incredibly comforting and helpful, thank you.

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    • The grief is so important, Julia. Keep letting it come up and through.

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  16. Sheryl, this is absolutely beautiful. I am not a parent myself, however, this moved me deeply. I felt it in my chest. I thought about my own mother and grandmother. My father, too. Thank you so much for sharing. Many blessings to you, your son, and your family.

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  17. I am reading Braiding sweetgrass at the moment and this exact quotation jumped at me when i read it a few days ago. I thought “Sheryl could have written this!” and here it is in your post! 😉

    Thank you for giving us perspective. I am in the trenches of early parenthood with a very energetic 4 yo and s 3 months old baby. At the moment, the days feel very long and yet I know so well that within the blink of an eye my boys will be young men 💕

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    • Congratulations on your new baby! He’s here! xoxoxo

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  18. Thank you Sheryl,

    I’m in tears reading this . I’ve followed your work since I got married and now 2 children later I still love your writings.

    My son is due to start primary school here in the UK and we are moving house at the same time. So many transitions at the moment and it brings much ease to read the way you express the grief Of these parenting and child transitions .

    Wishing You and your son so much Joy as he follows his dreams

    Xxx

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    • Thank you so much, Kitty. These transitions really do call up every emotion inside of us and when we walk through them consciously we grow in leaps and bounds.

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  19. I felt the tears reading this post and couldn’t hold them back at the end. Just beautiful Sheryl, thank you for sharing this and helping us navigate the process of letting go and attending to transitions through your own very human, painful and joyous experience. As a new Mum with a 8 month old I feel the pull of independence and the grief that with every milestone he is moving away from us. Motherhood is showing itself as one of the biggest lessons of my life and its with your guidance and wisdom that I’m trying to attend to this transition consciously. Your recommendation of Sweet Mercy and the chapter on motherhood really resonated with me. Thank you for this.
    Wishing you all a wonderful celebration today 💕

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    • So many new mothers on this comment thread! I wish I could bring you all together so you could support each other through these early stages, which can be quite challenging.

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  20. Hi Sheryl,
    Such welcome tears this post drew out from me. Thank you for sharing such a personal, and beautiful, story.

    The image of your weeping when holding Everest as a baby knowing he would leave in 18 years is so clear. It brought back my tears cried when holding my newborn. It feels so good to cry those.

    It reminds me of a song verse I wrote for my son: “May you grow like a river, flowing strong your own way. My arms of love will find you, child, when you’re far away. What the future will bring, that’s your treasure to find. When you need me, dive in the depths, I’m by your side.”

    I have this image of Everest being rooted so deeply in Mother Earth. He launches high into Father Sky, balanced and whole.

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    • Such beautiful words. Thank you so much, dear one 🙂 xoxo

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  21. So long as you haven’t experienced this: to die and so to grow, you are only a troubled guest on the dark earth. —GOETHE

    Little deaths prevent big deaths. What matters most is waiting its turn underneath all that is expending itself to prepare the way.

    This was Mark Nepo’s reading for yesterday in the Book of Awakenings. How very appropriate and synchronous with your writings.

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    • Thank you for sharing. Beautiful synchronicity!

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  22. I had tears in my eyes reading this and felt compelled to thank you. I’m a new parent, and my daughter just turned one a couple of weeks ago. The first couple of months postpartum were absolute hell for me mentally, but now I love being a mom more and more every day to my beautiful baby. I feel so sad that she’ll never be a baby again, but am not quite sure how to grieve — especially when part of me feels relieved to have that incredibly hard year behind me. :/

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    • The first year and especially the first few months of motherhood can be SO challenging. I have many posts on how to grieve which may be helpful as you continue to walk through the multiple transitions that comprise raising a child, and being a human! You can find them by entering “grief” in to the search bar above.

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  23. Such a beautiful text. I cried all the way through it. I´m a mother of an adoptive child, we got her at the age of three and she turned five this weekend. I´m grieving that we already have “lost” three years of her life. The first year was really hard and it took long time before I felt like her mother and now I grieve all the time we´ve lost together. And even though I love her so much now I still grieve that I wasn´t able to carry a child on my own. I guess that I need another perspective on grief. That it´s not my enemy and something I need to “get over” but something that follow us through life and that we should respect the feeling. We soon have to make the decision if we want to adopt another child and this really gets my relationship anxiety to blossom. I´m so afraid that we won´t make it as a family or as a couple.

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    • I have many posts on grief. If you enter “grief” into the search bar they should come up.

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  24. Hello Sheryl! Such a beautiful blog post! However, I have a question that is slightly off topic in regards to the Breaking Free Course. Is there a lever a point where the irritation, boredom, or even repulsion become too much to be normal? Is there a point where these stop being normal parts of a relationship and become red flags?
    Always so grateful for the gift that is your work!

    Reply
  25. Thank you for sharing, Sheryl. This was a wonderful read. As a mom of two young boys, some days are so hard with so many to-do’s, such limited alone time that I sometimes I end the day simply frustrated and exhausted. It’s hard to look out long term and see that we are sacrificing and giving so much for their greater good, and how we are building this bond that will last a lifetime. These tougher years won’t define our relationship, or motherhood for me. I look forward to growing my love for my boys and feel grateful I was chosen as their mom. Thanks for a perfectly-timed perspective. Happy birthday to your son!!

    Reply
    • I’m so glad it arrived at the right time. Parenting gets much easier as they get older!

      Reply
  26. Sheryl, as always, your blog posts cut straight to the heart and run parallel to moments in my own life.

    My son turned One yesterday. My Dad’s first death anniversary was 6 days earlier. Last week was one of the most intense I’ve experienced in quite some time…transitions rock me to my core.

    Despite my allowing the grief to come, I woke up on my kiddo’s birthday (after barely sleeping) feeling the familiar feelings of being shaky, emotional, and even slightly sick to my stomach. It reminded me of how I felt the morning of my wedding. When I realized those physical similarities, I made the connection between my body and my experiences with transition.

    I could say so much…but really I just want you to know how much I needed to read your words. Not everyone can find the words to express what I’ve been feeling, not even my own words have felt just. But these words —your words— do.

    What reading do you recommend on this emotional roller coaster of parenting? The grief, the awe, the constant saying goodbye and Hello all at once?

    Reply
    • Cara: I’m so glad that my words arrived at the right time to help you make sense of and contextualize your transition and the grief around your dad.

      As far as further reading on the emotional roller coaster of parenting, I haven’t come across much. I do have a chapter in my book The Wisdom of Anxiety on parenting, and I have many blog posts here that you can find if you click on the parenting tab. Sending you hugs.

      Reply
  27. ❤️

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    • Heart back to you, beautiful Grace. (I can’t send emojis on my computer!) xoxoxo

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  28. Ohhhh Sheryl.
    How beautiful is that!
    I am crying in my bed, reading this wonderful post…
    THANK YOU!!!!!!
    I remembere him being so young! Unbelievable how quick time is passing…
    Have a beautiful birthday and all the best for him!
    Sending you So much LOVE from the other end
    ❤️💜💕

    Reply
    • Sending so much love back to you as always, dear Bettina! xoxo

      Reply
  29. Dear Sheryl Paul,

    Hello, for all intended purposes I’ve chosen to go by M on this site especially since this is my first time posting and I’m not sure what the rules are exactly. I love the post about transitions and have found some recent transitions in my own life to bring up some anxiety about my partner and I. we’ve been together two years through all of which I’ve endlessly questioned the rightness. He’s a wonderful and very driven man, however, I find myself feeling tired of things, and as uncomfortable as it is I still don’t want to leave…..I hate that when I’m with him I feel tired of him and am not sure this is a red flag or not or if I should leave or if this is even a “projection” as I’ve read. I am interested in the course but am unsure if now is the time or if it’s a lost cause.
    Thank you for all that you’ve written!

    Reply
    • As long as there’s any part of you that is willing to work on the relationship it’s not a lost cause and I strongly recommend the relationship anxiety course.

      Reply
  30. I am crying so hard, while reading this. My son is 19 and slipping away from me, and I don’t have a partner anymore either, for he left 7 months ago.
    It is SO hard to just be with the pain and the loss….

    Reply
    • Oh, that’s a lot of pain to hold. Yes, it is so hard to stay with the pain, yet it’s exactly what allows us to move through it. Sending you love and hugs.

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  31. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as I’ve been feeling so many different types of grief throughout the pandemic–throughout I’ve felt tremendous sadness for the pain and fear all over the world, but while my family is fortunate to have our health and home and work, the pandemic has inspired us to decide (not easily) to relocate to be closer to family. I’ve been grieving this life I was trying to build here in our still-new city, the preschool I thought my daughter would attend until Kindergarten and the teachers who loved and nurtured her, saying goodbye to the places where she has spent the first two years of her life. It feels so disproportionate and silly in comparison to the pain of people losing their lives, their jobs, their homes. But not a day has gone by without me just sobbing.

    I feel stuck by the grief now–it just keeps recirculating through my system, and I feel like it’s holding me back from being open to a new adventure that will admittedly be a great move for my daughter and family. How do I fully process that grief when friends and family just don’t want to hear it anymore? I’ve shed so many tears, I just don’t know how to let go and move on.

    Reply

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