Sadness and Grief: The Work of Fall Time and Why it’s Especially Important in 2020

2020 according to my eighty five-year-old granddad is the “worst year I’ve ever had to live through.” That about sums it up for me as well.  It’s been a downpour of challenges, and what I’ve noticed in myself, as we move into the fall time, is that all the grief and sadness about the tragedies of this year have begun to well up in me. So far, I’ve been able to repress these hard emotions throughout the year, bucking up when the pandemic hit and my kids got pulled out of school, staying mentally strong as I quit my job to help homeschool. and even finding joy in the summer trips with my kids to the river and the Oregon coast. 

But now I’m feeling the surge of the trauma that we have all lived through for the past year hit me.  I am beginning to grieve for those millions of lives lost to Covid-19.  I grieve for those on the front lines, fighting this pandemic or just trying to stay afloat. I grieve for the black lives lost to prejudice and racism. I grieve for our divided country. I grieve for those who lost their homes in the wildfires. I grieve for the world’s children who miss their friends.   

The sadness I’m feeling this fall reminds me of the teachings of Portland-based shaman, Christina Pratt, who emphasizes the importance of feeling grief during the fall season. She explains the idea of aligning ourselves with the seasons of the year in order to stay healthy. Each season is a chance for us to shift our focus and use that season’s energy to ensure that we are living a full and holistic life.  

Pratt explains that fall is a transition season that takes us from the active and happy-go-lucky energy of summer into the quiet and introspective energy of winter. When we begin to move into fall, we may begin to feel a sense of sadness and grief. But it’s important for us not to fear these hard emotions or struggle against them because feeling and moving through the emotions of sadness and grief is the healthy work of the fall.  Feeling our emotions makes us well-rounded humans.  

Pratt teaches us the Taoist understanding of the relationship between the seasons and the major organs in our body.  Fall’s correlating organ is the lungs, therefore the work of the fall is to detox the lungs,  Metaphorically, this means clearing out our emotional baggage from the past year. 


Sadness and grief are two things we run screaming away from as it accumulates through the year.  And fall is the time that the lungs need to go bleehhh and let these things out. So they have to be felt and released and expressed and let go of…. We think “oh my god I’m depressed”.  No, your lungs are just trying to do their job.  So in our inability to be in the uncertainty of transition, because we want to be in this constant happy, happy, happy, state-right, we refuse to allow the lungs to do what they need to do. 

Christina Pratt

I love how Ms. Pratt calls out our absolute fear of not being happy. It’s like we think we should be in a perpetual summary state of being, yet just like we see in the cyclical nature of the seasons, we too need to cycle through our emotions. And I’m notorious for holding in my feelings; I don’t watch tear-wrenching movies; I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve; I try to keep a stiff upper lip. But this fall, I feel a stronger sadness than usual, and I know that I need to take a moment to grieve and move through this deep, collective sadness, so I can make room for hope, which keeps me moving forward. 

Anchoring Practices

  1. Music helps me feel hard feelings sometimes. Try playing some songs that help bring forward sad feelings and have a good cry.
  2. We can hold space for our loved ones to talk about their sadness and grief. I’m thinking of my kids here, and how they too have been holding in these hard feelings and bravely forging on in this time of fear and uncertainty. 
  3.  My kids like little rituals, so think of a way to physically do something with that grief and sadness.  Write it down, feel it and then burn it or bury it.  Put it in a God box and pray on it.  Light a candle about it.  Clear it out with sage. 

For more excellent resources about shamanism and holistic living check out Chrsitina Pratt’s podcast: Why Shamanism Now

I connected immediately and deeply  to Christina Pratt’s podcast series about seasonal transition and alignment.  These podcasts changed me forever.  They got me in tune with the natural cycles and rhythms of this life and they helped me flow into the seasons of change as opposed to struggling against them.  

Here are my favorite episodes:

What Does It Mean to Live in Your Body

Grace in Transition

The Heart of Fear

Joyful Manifestation, Summer and Shamanism

Spring Dreaming and Manifesting

Also, visit Christina’s website: Last Mask Center for more information about her workshops and classes for practicing practical shamanism in contemporary times. 

Featured Image by x1klima