This November 2020 full moon journal page was created to help you release grief from the pandemic.
In the northern hemisphere, we are entering the dark season. The dark season can feel emotionally overwhelming. For your ancestors you can imagine how the season with the least amount of sun was a time of scarcity and uncertainty. I’m sure they were often left wondering, “Did we store enough to get us through? How dark and cold will it get?”
Surviving the elements during the dark season was a lot more perilous than it is today but our bones remember. We remember how isolating the dark and cold can feel. We also remember how important connection, community and the winter celebrations were to help bring light to the darkness.
The winter solstice, which comes around the middle of December, marks the longest night of the year but that dark night also marks the moment when the days slowly start becoming longer. Until then, our nights are getting longer and longer and that energy draws us inward. Looking inward and facing yourself is no small thing.
My husband and I used to watch this series called Alone. In it, people competed to see who could survive in the wilderness without anyone else to accompany them. I was shocked to see how many gave up their chance to win not because they couldn’t catch food or build a shelter but because they couldn’t be alone with their thoughts and feelings. I saw strong, masterful survivalists give up after a week stating their reason for leaving was because they couldn’t stand being in their own head anymore.
In my work, I help people dive right into those psyches because yes, that’s where the hard things are but it’s also where your answers live.
One of the emotions you meet in the shadows of your own psyche is grief.
Most people find it difficult to greet grief with compassion. Grief is often thought of as an unpleasant emotion and it’s usually avoided at all costs. In my practice I’ve witnessed many people who couldn’t locate themselves in their own emotional landscape when grief came around to pay them a visit. The overwhelming feelings of grief confused and scared them. They thought something was terribly wrong. They wondered if they were depressed. They didn’t understand why they didn’t feel like themselves anymore but grief is normal and dare I say, necessary!
Except for the ceremonies we have around death, we don’t have a lot of rituals around grief which is unfortunate because there are a lot more kinds of grief than the grief we feel when we lose someone we love. When we allow ourselves to experience all kinds of grief, it opens us up to feeling deeply and feeling deeply is when you feel alive. William Blake’s, “The deeper the sorrow, the greater the joy” expresses this truth.
When you can’t dive deep into unpleasant emotions you end up living on the emotional surface of things and that’s where life feels numb. Nothing really excites you or lights you up. Nothing moves you. You’re cut off from your own inner compass. You can’t discern where your Spirit is calling you because you can’t hear or feel it. You can’t experience genuine joy without experiencing genuine grief.
Give yourself permission to grieve because grief doesn’t just come when you’ve lost someone you love. Grief sneaks up on you when your life changes in any small way and your life is always changing. You are always changing. You’re allowed to be sad because you lost something or someone. In fact, you should be sad about losing something or someone often because you are constantly transforming. Your body changes. Relationships change. Kids grow and change. Jobs change. Homes change. Nothing stays the same for very long and with every change comes grief. In order to birth something new, something old has to fall away. Even when you’re excited for that new experience, there is something about the old one that will feel like a loss.
Before you complete this moon page, I’d like you to take a moment to reflect on the grief you’ve been forced to face during the pandemic. Scroll down to the “Create” section of this post and you will see a list of things you may be grieving since the pandemic. Whatever your personal thoughts or feelings of the pandemic are, it has affected you and I’m sure you’ve experienced some form of grief.
Before the New Year greets us, carve a quiet moment to allow yourself to validate your feelings of grief and ask the full moon to carry away an heavy energy you don’t need to take with you into another year.
I’m sure the next year will continue to challenge us emotionally so let’s give ourselves as much of a blank slate as we can.
If you are not on my email list and haven’t received this month’s moon page, visit my homepage and sign up. You’ll receive a link where you can download the hand-drawn page I created for this particular moon. Print it, grab a tea and a cozy blanket, get comfortable then follow the instructions below.
If moon rituals are familiar to you, prepare your sacred space and invite Spirit to join you in whatever way works best for you.
If, however, you are new to moon rituals, I’ve included a quick guide to the steps I follow to prepare for my moon rituals in a past blog post. Take a look at it before moving forward.
Print out the November full moon journal page and gather your pencil crayons or paint.
Think about what you have lost since the pandemic. One of the things you may have lost is a sense of routine. Where you work, where your kids go to school and play, the events you normally would have attended, the extra circular activities you had to drop, all the people you used to see on a daily basis may have changed. We’ve had to change how we shop, exercise, eat, entertain ourselves and celebrate holidays. You’re allowed to feel sad about all this change. You’re even allowed to feel angry. It’s not easy having to adapt to a whole new routine. You might feel displaced or out of sorts. It’s a lot of change to accept in a short amount of time.
Maybe you’re like me and the loss of freedom is causing you to grieve. We haven’t been able to go out and do whatever we want to do. I often feel restricted or trapped. It can also feel really frustrating being held back in this way. It’s not easy to lose your freedom. You’re allowed to struggle with that. Don’t belittle your pain or dismiss it by convincing yourself you shouldn’t feel the way you do. Just feel what you feel. Let it pass through and notice what happens on the other side of your pain. There’s always wisdom ready to greet you there.
There’s so much that doesn’t feel normal anymore. We’ve had to change so much about our daily lives you might be experiencing something as simple but profound as the loss of normality.
You might have experienced economic loss because of the pandemic such as the loss of a job or of an income you relied on. Even if you didn’t experience that kind of loss, you may be feeling the loss of economic security on a global or national scale. This kind of loss of security also brings anxiety and fear. You might be feeling afraid of a recession or the unpredictable nature of the economy might just be weighing heavy on you. Please don’t keep these fears to yourself. Share them with the people you love. You’re not meant to carry such heavy burdens on your own. When you do, it ends up growing inside you or it weighs you down much more than it has to.
Another aspect of everyday life that has drastically changed this year is our ability to connect with other people. This will be especially impactful if you live alone. We’ve had to experience the loss of co-regulation, the loss of connection, the loss of hugs and affection, the loss of physical nearness. All of this can bring about moments of overwhelming loneliness. We weren’t expecting to have to deal with this and for most of us it is unfamiliar to experience this on as grand of a scale as we are experiencing it now.
I had the unfortunate experience of losing people I love during this pandemic. If you did too, then you know how the global circumstances changed your experience of grieving someone you love. I wanted to share these words by David Kessler from an article titled “That Discomfort You’re Feeling is Grief”
“Humans are wired to reassure and to comfort. In my practice, I’ve seen that it is not only distressing to be deprived of receiving comfort, but similarly to be deprived of the ability to provide comfort. Not being able to directly comfort loved ones who are grieving right now is also painful.
The fact that we cannot gather and grieve is a really big blow.
Not being at your person’s bedside at the end of their life adds extra layers of suffering. It might add guilt: even though you weren’t allowed to be there, there’s a sense that you should have been anyway, or that you should have realized that they were sick sooner. There’s also a lot of survivor’s guilt around the coronavirus because the virus is transmitted by close contact—someone might think, I just saw my dad three weeks ago. Maybe I gave this to him. That survivor’s guilt is uncomfortable, and adds extra layers of suffering on top of grief itself, but it’s very normal.
If you are a parent or grandparent or you care for kids, your heart may be feeling heavy for the next generation. You may be grieving the future you thought they would have. You may be afraid of how the pandemic will emotionally impact them. You may be grieving with and for them as they have had to lose many comforts and joys.
On the moon page, you’ll notice a small bottle in the top left hand corner that has a blank label on it. Imagine you were placing all your grief in that bottle. What would you label the bottle?
As we grieve, it’s important to also focus on the positive aspects that accompany changes. Celebrate the good. What have you gained from this change? You may have lost a great many things but there will be things you have gained also. Let’s focus on that for a moment.
Perhaps you now have more time to take care of yourself. More time with immediate family. Closer connection with kids. A slower pace. Treasured moments with community. More intentional connection.
Focus on the things in your life you still enjoy like your walks in nature or the routines you still have that comfort and nurture you. Think of the sun and the way it still comes up every morning and the way the full moon still lights up the starlit sky.
Think of the art you like to look at or the art you like to make. Think of the poets and writers whose words still touch your soul. Think of the laughter you have still been able to share. Think of something you can do this week to bring you just a little piece of joy like the cuddles you can have with your pet or the flowers you can buy for your kitchen table or the gift you can send to make someone day’s a little brighter.
A friend shared with me the grief she was feeling around not being able to physically see her parents and siblings but then she also shared how close they have become because they aren’t waiting for family gatherings to connect. They are now making the effort to connect every day online or on the phone. It’s not the same but she expressed how the connection has been deeper and more soul nourishing.
Focus on one benefit you have experienced from these trying times. What’s one thing you have received or experienced that you would otherwise have not received or experienced? Imagine the goodness and sweetness of that feeling growing inside you.
Grab your pen or markers and crayons and finish the sentence on the moon page. Allow yourself to dream with that big brave full moon.
If you end up completing this moon page, I’d love to see what you created. You can even post the finished piece on Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag #danasartrituals or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and share with me how it went for you. It’s fun for me to know there are others out there enjoying the moon with me.