Updated: Nov 6
Just several months after my mother died, I noticed that I had reached a level of exhaustion that I had never experienced in my life. I had witnessed the gradual decline of her health for a period of three or four years and the intense sadness I felt and the continual worrying had taken their toll.
I had no energy for journal writing or for going for a walk, which had sometimes helped me in the past. I just needed to rest. Yet I was also aware that I was physically holding on to so much emotion and I needed to find a way to let that go.
I needed to settle my nervous system and to find a way to feel grounded again after so many months of heartache.
When I was growing up, there were many Sunday afternoons when my father would listen to opera music on the record player and to the spiritual songs of the deep south. One of his favourite singers was Paul Robeson, who sang songs about slavery and the longing for freedom. There was something about the deep tone of his voice and the emotion that I always loved. So it was here that I began my journey of letting go.
The words to spiritual songs such as "Swing Low Sweet Chariot ... coming for to carry me home" would bring tears to my eyes. So that is what I did.
I cried until there were no more tears left to cry. After several hours of crying, after many Kleenexes and many cups of my favourite tea, I finally found a sense of peace. And I knew that I would be alright. I had never travelled this journey before yet somehow I knew that I would find my way back home.
Just recently, I’ve heard the term to "make space for grief." So whenever I have a wave of sadness come over me, I know that I need to slow down and to welcome the grief. To sit down with my cup of tea, with my headphones on and to listen, just listen.
I came to a place where I could welcome my grief because it was a reminder to me of the love that I shared with both of my parents. That the sadness I was feeling about their passing was in direct proportion to the amount of love that I had for them. I didn’t need to be afraid anymore. The tears were simply a reminder of the love that we shared.
And the music – the music was there to help me, to find my way back home.
Ruth has worked in the field of employment counselling for a period of 25 years and has loved the opportunity to help individuals reach their career goals. She is passionate about the need for improving the mental health of individuals and the need to ensure that all people have access to a safe and supportive work environment.