Go to content, skip over navigation


More Pages

Go to content, skip over visible header bar
Home News Features Arts & Entertainment Sports OpinionAbout Contact Advertise

Note about Unsupported Devices:

You seem to be browsing on a screen size, browser, or device that this website cannot support. Some things might look and act a little weird.

Taking a break before break: moving through grief

November 12, 2021

Juliana Vandermark

Hello, friends. My heart is with each one of you, in your joy and in your pain. I hope you have had the time, space and people to process your emotions with. Your grief, confusion, anger and self-doubt—your feelings—deserve to be honored, to be held gently and with tenderness. I’m holding those feelings myself. Perhaps you already know what I’m about to say, but it’s worth repeating: sadness does not belong to any one person. Do not direct anger toward yourself for experiencing emotions. There is no such thing as “you don’t have the right to feel.” Loss is triggering; pain is pain. Please continue to be gentle with yourself, now and going forwards. Grief isn’t a “problem,” and therefore it can’t be “solved.” It’s not linear in its progression. It’s erratic and unpredictable, and that’s okay. In the house of your heart, grief is a hard guest to welcome. That being said, every time we hear it knocking on our door we must greet it with open arms and hold it with love. It will hurt less, one day. Until then, remember to hold yourself with love, too.

This week, I wanted to provide some advice on what to do in this frenzied space before Thanksgiving break, especially following a week that has been hard for so many. Some of us are slowly finding our way back to something resembling “normal,” while others feel that is impossible. Wherever you are, be there. It’s okay. I hope these words can help all of you, no matter where you happen to stand.

The card I drew for the current situation is the 9 of Wands. This card talks of exhaustion. It signals that rest is not yet here. Yet, it also talks of a resolute determination, an “I’m still-hanging-on-goddammit” attitude. It talks of increasing pressure, business and more things to pay attention to. I hope you aren’t leaving yourselves off of that list. You will get through this; it may feel impossible, but perhaps that’s more a reflection of how you feel about getting through it “the traditional way”—buckling down and grinding through schoolwork, practice or whatever’s going on in your life. That’s not the only way you have to get through it. There are responsibilities we all have, responsibilities we feel we absolutely must keep. Remember and honor your first responsibility to your well-being and the well-being of others. Take care of yourself and others first, and if you need more time and space to do that, reach out and ask for it. Others will understand. Trust also in your strength. In the strength of your breath, of your existence in each passing moment. I’m here, I’m here.

The card I drew for the main challenge is the Ace of Pentacles. It’s always interesting when you get a “positive” card in a “negative” position. This card talks of beginnings; the first steps of growth; the planting of seeds that will sprout years to come. Here, I think it speaks to the difficulty we’re feeling while moving into that space of “new beginnings”—how is that even possible? How can others expect, even ask us to do that? Now? Ever? This is also talking very pointedly about how these weeks are going to be with us for the time to come. Grief, trauma, pain—they all cast long shadows in our lives. When they pass over us, it’s hard. Unspeakably hard. But, perhaps in some way, the knowledge that their presence will be with us can make it easier to have this hard company. Close your eyes, breathe in and hold someone’s hand.

The card I drew for the main advice is The High Priestess—a Major Arcana card. This means that there’s a life lesson to be learned here, one bigger than all of us but common to every last one of us. Trust yourself. Trust your intuition, your inner knowing and, most importantly, listen to what you hear. Yes, there is much more that our external environment could be doing to foster our well-being and happiness. But so often, we, too, neglect ourselves. We lose touch with what we’re feeling and what we want, what we need, in the jumble of day-to-day life. Moments like this rip us from whatever comfortable, monotonous or unbearable rhythm of weekly life. We are forced to see how we’re doing. We have the choice to act upon that. The point is to not lose connection with our inner selves again. Instead, we should try and regularly check in on ourselves, much like we check in on dear friends. Take the advice you’d give to them if they were in your position. Remember, you should be a loved one in your own life.

I’d like to close off with something I first heard while watching “The Midnight Gospel,” a very cool show on Netflix I highly recommend (I won’t gush about it here, but I’m a fan). We think that contractions only occur during birth, and after that final push, there’s the big release. But really, all of life is like a birth—there are periods of stress, of  “oh no, oh no, here it comes, it’s here ahh!” always followed by periods of pause, rest, relaxation, “I’m still here, it’s over, here’s something new.” The appearance of hardship in our life is equal to the appearance of bliss; both shape us in this ongoing birth. Both help form us into better human beings.

Please be well, and take care of yourselves.

With all my love,



Before submitting a comment, please review our comment policy. Some key points from the policy:

  • No hate speech, profanity, disrespectful or threatening comments.
  • No personal attacks on reporters.
  • Comments must be under 200 words.
  • You are strongly encouraged to use a real name or identifier ("Class of '92").
  • Any comments made with an email address that does not belong to you will get removed.

Leave a Reply

Any comments that do not follow the policy will not be published.

0/200 words