As we move into September, it always feels like the start of a new year to me. Even more so than January somehow.  The transition from the free flow of summer to the more structured routines of fall feels so distinct and notable.

For those of us on a fertility journey, this time of year can sometimes feel tender as well.  The signs and advertising for “back to school” are everywhere and can be a painful reminder of the family we don’t yet have or the family that does not yet feel complete.

I have been reflecting these last days about how September marks the time when we let go of growing our family. I feel so thankful for the counsellor who was supporting me during that time; both for how compassionately she accompanied me through the enormous grief and also for her wisdom in suggesting that we plant something in honour of making peace with the decision and in memory of our last embryo that wasn’t meant to be.

We planted a purple Rose of Sharon bush in our garden some years ago and then soon after, nourished its roots with the ashes of our most beloved fur friend. I found a piece of driftwood on the beach the same day with a knot in the shape of a heart and our neighbours came by that night to offer hugs and the solace of a solar lantern.  For many years, its nightly glow was a comforting reminder of the blessing of loving so deeply.

Grief is quite an energy and a force, isn’t it?

By nature of being human, it will be a visitor to us all at different times and comes in many different forms.  From the smaller moments of disappointment to the times when, as the 13th century poet Rumi says, loss “violently sweeps your house empty of its furniture”.

Mindfulness and compassion practices have been invaluable whenever I find myself swimming in these turbulent waters.  It has shown me how to hold the tenderness gently, allowing the waves to wash over and pass through…and when exhausted, to float…and when overwhelmed, to come to shore for a bit and take rest.

Witnessing the cycling of our Rose of Sharon plant through the seasons (along with the myriad of emotions it stirs within me) has been immensely healing.  At its core, all of this is just nature. The growth, blossoms, decay and dormancy. The grief, anger, joy and love.  While attuning to these rhythms feels tender and raw, it also contains moments that are profoundly beautiful.

To me, this is what makes life, relationships and experiences so rich and meaningful.  A dear friend recently called this ‘genuine living’ and I can’t imagine living any other way.