How to Love Your Sadness {rituals for honoring heartache}

After years of fighting against and wrong-making my darker emotions, I’ve learned to love and embrace my sadness.

Let me explain.

I come from a lineage of women who carry the weight of wanting to make everything okay.

Big smiles were plastered over heavy hearts, uncomfortable moments and mistruths. My New England born and raised great grandparents would much rather turn a bourbon-infused blind eye to their children’s suffering and teach them to pretend everything is just fine than give them permission to feel and express their feelings.

And, although I’ve seen my mother and grandmother take courageous steps to heal those wounds in their own lives, that lingering veneer of smile-through-the-pain made it’s way to me.

I recall waking up on some mornings in my teen years feeling a deep heaviness in my chest begging to be sobbed out. There was that time during my sophomore year in college where I would wear the same sweatpants for weeks at a time and it felt like the raincloud over my head would never move along.

…and I would think “What is wrong with me?! This is bad. I am bad. I don’t want to feel this.”

In my desperate attempt to shake my sadness off me like a pesky fly that won’t leave you alone, I learned to numb. I would eat, I would purge, I would binge watch television, I would drink, I would smoke.

But the funny thing about being a human….is that sadness always returns. It is as fundamental as breathing.

And, as the years have passed and I’ve been on my journey back to wholeness and reconnection with my inner feminine, I’ve surrendered to the fact that having an emotional range is a beautiful thing.

When you allow yourself to feel what emotion is coming up for you, you’re more easily able to move through it.

Because happiness always returns, too.

A few weeks back, I woke up with a profound sadness flowing through me. What began as a conversation with Tim about whether we were ready to have children turned into a sadness so deep I knew it couldn’t only be my own.

Grief was pulsing through my system, my ancestors were moaning with melancholy, and I knew it needed to be honored.

So I crafted Becca’s Shadow Day – a day of making my sadness sacred once more.

Here’s what I do…

  • I give myself permission to be sad for the entire day. This is one of the most powerful actions you can take for yourself because we often don’t know if we’re allowed to feel sad or how long it will last, so giving yourself complete and total permission to feel the sadness creates a freedom for it to move completely through you. {If this feels too scary for you, set a timer on your phone for a short amount of time like 5 minutes and give yourself the permission to feel sad for that amount of time. You’ll feel a shift!}
  • I burn sage.
  • I cry. A lot. I let the tears flow in a place that feels safe to do so (the car, the shower, my bed, in the embrace of a friend, etc). It feels soooooo good to release the pent up emotion that is brewing inside you during a time of deep sadness. Let it out, mama. {If you struggle getting yourself to have an emotional release through crying, try moving your body by dancing or swaying from side to side. I also like to use my voice by wailing, sighing, or grunting to move the emotion out of me.}
  • When people ask how I am, I tell them honestly that I’m feeling really sad today. If that makes them uncomfortable, I calmly let them know that I’m OK with it and thank them for their love and concern.
  • I get near or in water. Water is the element associated with emotion, which I love because it’s at its best when it’s flowing. I go to the beach and feel the power of the tides on the planet and also inside my body. I watch the waves crashing and feel them crash inside me. I also like to take showers or baths with my most special spa products as a way of creating ritual and being gentle with myself during a tender time. I turn off the overhead lights and light candles. I drop essential oils and crystals in the water. I harvest lemon balm and lavender from the garden and drop them in the water in a muslin bag to create a bathtub tea. I use the fancy soap and put a mask in my hair. I sip chamomile from my favorite mug and breaaaaaathe.
  • I call my mama and ask her to gently hold space for my sobbing and blubbering. {If calling your mama isn’t an option or a desire, then I highly recommend sending audio voice memos to your dearest girlfriends. I text mine that I’m feeling sad and there’s an incoming voice memo of sadness. When they give the thumb’s up, I press record and let it all out. It feels so good to get their voice memos or emoji texts of support, permission and love right back.}

As we women continue to wake up and reclaim ourselves as beautiful beings with a wide range of emotions and modes of expression, we give permission for the woman sitting next to us on the plane, living in the house next door, or even the one living in an emotionally suppressive community halfway across the world to do the same.

So love your sadness, brave ones, and appreciate your authentic truth in this one wild and precious life.

How to Love Your Sadness {rituals for honoring heartache}

Wisdom and rituals for slow & seasonal living

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