Grief is Like a Knot in a Tree

Tree in my backyard with sun shining through it

Hi everyone,

I haven’t written in awhile and I thought maybe I’d share some thoughts on grief since that is the season I’m in right now.

But, before we dive in, I just want to say that I hope everyone had a very special Easter (for those of you that celebrate it).

I discovered this year, that I celebrated it or really rather commemorated it more than I ever have before.

I haven’t been to a communion service on Maundy Thursday and taken communion as if we were in that very room with Jesus, but I did this year (virtually) with my former Pastor who had a lovely service in his backyard, just he and his family practicing social distancing.

I felt the magnitude of every word, every action that Jesus took that night like never before.

And on Friday, I attended two services online (again my former Pastor at his home) and the church I attend regularly online). Both were meaningful and moving.

I spent some time Saturday actually contemplating how Jesus’ disciples felt knowing their teacher/rabbi/friend was dead. I could empathize since I am in a season of grief myself.

And Sunday, glorious Sunday! I got up early, like I have done for the past 25 years, to celebrate Easter Sunrise Service, but this time, I was alone, sitting on the bank of the lake in my backyard which faces east.

I had a quite time with God and enjoyed the beautiful sky-show unfolding before me.

Easter Sunrise 2020

And then, again, I attended 3 online services and watched Andrea Boccelli belt out Amazing Grace from Italy–THAT was a moving performance.

Okay, onward to my thoughts on grief and the grief process.

One day, while I was sitting in my backyard and looking at this tree (the one pictured at the very beginning of this post), I saw the sun shining through it and it nearly took my breath away.

That tree has been in my yard since I moved in 25 years ago. It was smaller then, but still good size.

It has taken a beating with many limbs falling off of it due to hurricanes or strong wind storms or from my husband taking off the low ones because we were bumping our heads on them.

The tree caught my attention like never before and I found my eyes being drawn to the knots on it. I contemplated them. I had heard it said that knots never get any higher on the tree. Where the limb comes off, is where the knot stays.

Trees apparently don’t grow up in the way one might think. They grow from the tops or the ends of branches. The trunk itself doesn’t continue to move up as it grows.

So, when there is damage to the tree like a branch being removed, the tree heals around it.

Then, it struck me, that’s how grief feels.

You weather a storm and some damage has occured. You have lost something; something of value.

But, that wound doesn’t go with you into your new growth. It stays behind, right where it happened.

You heal around it and it leaves a knot. Something quite visible to yourself and others.

But, you still grow.

In fact, you are stronger there than before because have you ever tried to saw through a knot on a tree? Yes, it’s hard.

I don’t know what’s happening inside the tree. I can’t see what it’s doing in there, but my guess is, there’s healing going on in there as well. Maybe a new pathway around where the wound was to bring sap up to the higher branches.

That’s how grief feels. You’re creating new pathways, new ways to navigate life on the inside where no one sees.

Life will never be the same for that tree where that limb was–no birds will nest in it there; no squirrels will scamper across it; no leaves will sprout and die and fall off.

No, it’s a different tree now. It has sustained loss.

But, it’s still a tree. It still has opportunity for good things to happen in the other branches. It still has life, a life that needs to be and will most definitely be lived.

But, the scar, the memory will always remain.

And that is how grief is like a knot in a tree.

Thank you for reading my blog today and every day and sharing it with others. I truly enjoy this blogging community. So many wonderful people all over the world. It’s great we get to connect here. It almost feels like a secret society because when I talk about blogging with my friends and family, they just look at me like they don’t understand. LOL

Have a wonderful day! I love you!

29 thoughts on “Grief is Like a Knot in a Tree

  1. Such a meaningful post. Thank you. I too listened to Andrea Boccelli and was moved to tears. A friend of mine just lost an adult son and I sent her a card with a quote I read a few years back. “When you lose someone who is part of who you are, time will heal the wound but not erase the scar.” Not sure who said it or where I found it but I have taken comfort in it. Easter blessings to you, Wanda. I am glad you are staying safe and well.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Grief is not a simple, it is over and go on with your life. Those scars often ache decades later. I’m still angry at mom, as much as I do forgive her. (but that is a whole story in itself!) This season of spring is full of renewal and remembering and light. Thank you for sharing your story and thoughts. Positive beauty is necessary each day and definitely right now.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You are so right! There is nothing simple about grief. I’m in the 11th month of losing my husband so I have no idea what long term grief will look like for me. I have a feeling my ‘knot’ will ache for a long time too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. One of my best friends, also an author, lost her mom in early Feb and her husband is now in hospice. I send her notes every week or so to remind her of the beauty in our world. I can’t imagine losing a spouse. Bless you for going on.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh, my! My heart goes out to her. My Mom has been my rock for getting through this. At least, on earth. God has played a huge role too. I can’t imagine losing both special people so close together. Especially with all this coronavirus stuff we’re having to deal with.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I think your analogy of a knot on a tree being like grief is spot on, Wanda. I’ve never thought of it in that way until you defined it so eloquently. I’m so sorry that you have experienced a profound loss. There is pain, for sure, but hopefully, there are happy memories that provide more comfort than sorrow. I do know one side effect of the virus is that our friends aren’t able to typically provide the support that we may need. We just had to put our dog down two weeks ago, and we’re grieving right now. We miss him because he was such an enormous part of our lives, but I’m comforted knowing he is no longer in pain.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your kind words. I am able to enjoy my memories more so now than before so I can tell I’m making progress.
      I have actually had more people reach out during this virus because they actually have a little more time and they’ve slowed down a bit which is really nice. There were many evenings I sat home alone and no one reached out. I thought people probably didn’t know what to say or figured I was doing okay or something. So this has been nice to re-connect with friends.
      I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your dog. It was 12 years ago we had to put down our chocolate lab. She had seizures and this time, she kept seizing all night long and it paralyzed her left side. Anyway, afterwards, I pounded my fists on the steering wheel and sobbed. I hated losing her. She was such a good girl.
      For Christmas that year, my husband gave me a book called Rescuing Sprite. I couldn’t put it down and read the whole thing in one sitting. Boy, did I cry. Like couldn’t catch my breath, cry. But it was the catharsis I needed.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think your guess about friends not knowing what to say is probably most likely. When others don’t know what to say, I’m afraid the go-to move for some people is to just avoid the situation. We’ve always had labs (golden, yellow, black). They’ve all been loving dogs, although the last two have died prematurely (5 and 9 years old) from cancer. I would like to own a chocolate lab someday.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, I agree and I have to admit, I do it too. When something is uncomfortable, I avoid it. What my daughter and I found was that people that had been through a loss are the ones that reach out. And I can say now, I’m much more comfortable talking about it with others and sitting with them in their grief.
        Labs are great! She was so sweet and gentle.
        I have two Yorkies now who are equally loving and sweet, just smaller.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderful post so well told. I imagine that each person processes grief in a special way, but certainly there must be commonalities. Helpful to read thoughts from various people on this difficult passage in life. As for your mention of non-bloggers not understanding…you are SO right, Wanda!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your kind words. Yes, I agree, everyone grieves differently and every loss can have a different response depending on the relationship and circumstances surrounding the loss. But, I think there are some commonalities too. That’s why grief groups can really help. You feel like people understand.
      And yes, the non-blogging world just doesn’t have a clue! 😁

      Liked by 1 person

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