“You must go on. I can’t go on. I’ll go on.”
― Samuel Beckett, The Unnamable
Spring Equinox, a time of buds and green. I remember being age 7 at primary school, and we were set a task of writing about our favourite months with a drawing to go with it. I chose April and drew a drew and little animals. I can still feel the feeling of what it conjured up for me and still does. In many ways, I haven’t changed much since then, even though it is around 4 decades on. And yet, in other ways, I have changed profoundly.
I am still ever hopeful of buds, potential, and growth. I still am very much your flowers and animals type of girl, and at the same time, I am now profoundly aware of death. Of grief. Of the life – death – life cycle. I am aware of my own death and the death of all beings. I have looked my own death in the face following a breast cancer diagnosis in 2019. The questions that have arisen for this for me is ‘How do I truly want to live? Am I living truly from my heart or form my image and being impressive?’. In my therapy and coaching work with people, I am passionate about helping them to not have to face such a diagnosis in order to answer and work on these questions. Death is the only real certainty in life. It is the moment none of us can escape. To dwell there too much may not be helpful, and all we have is the present moment. Each moment can be precious and budding to some new potential, some new growth, and can allow a deep filling from the inside. Growth means letting some things in us die. Life-death-life.
I was looking forward to Spring 2023, and planning my Spring Equinox review whilst I simultaneously planned my New Year review (as you can tell, I like to set goals, plans, write things in nice notebooks and tick them off when I achieve them), and this year I focussed more on intentionality than setting goals and dreams. I was excited for emerging Spring, and has curated my Spring wardrobe ready for this (something I love to do). Then I received news of the unexpected death of someone in my life; someone that was truly my soul friend, who loved me in a way that I am unsure I will ever have the privilege of experiencing again, someone who was always my cheerleader and saw the best in me even when I was at my worst. To live in this world without her in it seemed too much. This death also came on the back of some other deaths since August of a person, three precious pet rats, and the Queen of my country (UK), ‘You must go on. I cannot go on’.
The shock of this January death news overtook my body and even my ability to think coherently and speak fluently. Whilst I felt deeply present to the grief, I felt not present to the world around me. I felt myself in a tunnel merely existing, whilst doing all I could to nurture and take care of my darling pet rats, who are truly my little worlds and depend on me. Whilst I knew my love for them, my heart felt shrunk, like I could not feel the swell I usually feel with them. My agile ballerina body felt heavy, and for the sake of not losing technique and for health reasons, I pushed myself through a half hour ballet barre class daily in my ballet room, though every muscle felt heavy, my posture felt weighed down. I allowed myself to be present to this, and then breathed my way into correct ballet posture. Part of me didn’t much care, though.
I took some time off work and my current university granted me an extension. Often, I would push through, but this time the biology of grief had truly taken the lead in me, and I chose to allow this, whilst not allow myself to sink so low that it may be dangerous to my mental health. I knew I had temporarily lost the will to live into the future. I reminded myself Spring was coming soon, and the seeds underground will emerge and eventually bloom again. The picture and writing I created at school at age 7 could still be part of my life and experience. I needed to wait it out and stay present to what I needed in the heaviness. I did not like this one bit. However, I also knew it was the greatest love I could show for the person I had lost and for myself. Something began to shift over the days as I allowed this, and I took the risk of sharing with a good friend, who shared some things in identification – this really helped. I no longer felt the need to keep up the image of ‘coping perfectly’, and I didn’t feel the need to prove anything.
I hope in some way, my allowing myself to share my unexpected Spring process will help others. Yes, the darkness may feel horrible, grief may weigh us down and sleep may be a stranger to us for some nights, and yet being present to this in a self-caring and compassionate way truly allows presence. Life-death-life.
Today, as I write this article for CLC, those buds are pushing through the dark soil. Light is emerging. I feel present to my surroundings, but also to what I may need within myself. In some ways, whilst still very much still processing the grief, loss and pain, I feel ‘reborn’ and now I can say with an even more poignant hope:
‘I’ll go on’.
Leighah Roni Beadle-Darcy is the Founder (founded 2013) & Co-owner of Physis CEPD Services (formally Physis Arts, Sciences, and Therapies). BA(hons), MA, PG cert, Dip CPC/coun, Dip dance therapy, Cert nutrition, PHCP (MBTI), Certified Enneagram teacher and trainer through the School of Conscious Living. MBACP.