Those that know me personally or have been following this blog regularly are aware that my family and I have been through difficulties recently. My Grandfather lost his battle with cancer on May 19th. His suffering was an ordeal this family will not forget; as my father put it, “That’s a sight you will never get out of your mind.” An unrecognizable emaciated body ravaged by a merciless disease, struggling for each breath, in a drug-induced stupor is something we are not likely to forget.
In this time of grief, my mother also has serious medical issues of her own on which we await results; another dear family member was rushed to the hospital for an emergency procedure just last week. Mourning for one and worrying for the others, combined with the everyday stressors of work, neighbors, finances and more have taken their toll on us in different ways. For myself, the stress response is physical. The past days this week have been rather miserable, with lightheadedness and intestinal distress, my body’s usual response to acute emotional stress.
Sadly, in today’s economic climate, one needs to be on one’s toes. But it is rather difficult to be on one’s toes when there has been a death in the family and one is concerned for the health and welfare of other family members. The difficulty is compounded when the body under stress decides it has had enough and proceeds to temporarily break down. As discussed in my previous post, modern attitudes and behaviors toward grieving are not as sympathetic as they once were. After a few days of bereavement leave, one must jump right back into the fray of daily life as if nothing had happened!
So how is one to find some equilibrium, some semblance of serenity amidst the upheaval? The answer, more often than not, lies in nature. Be it a tree-lined walk,
time spent in nature has a way of grounding and calming the most distraught of us. It may not mend our problems, but it soothes our psyche and comforts us on deeper level. Perhaps it’s because on a cellular level, we are made of the same elements as the earth. Perhaps it’s because nature brings us closer to God – as it is His gift to us.
Part of this healing that nature does can be found in our four-legged companions. The benefits of owning a pet are a recurring theme here on Diverse Philosophies, because I have personally experienced the life-altering effects of having companion animal in my life. Taking a walk in a serene natural spot with a dog is perhaps the best therapy available. The key is finding – or making – the time for it.
Family and true friends are precious gifts to cherish. I deeply appreciate the support I have received during this trying time. But I realize it is up to myself alone to take control and find a way to manage my stress levels so that I can be all that I need to be for those I love. And I suspect the answer may be found where there are trees and tranquility.