Dear Five Faces: For 50 years, my parents had a happy marriage. They seemed the perfect couple to me, and I’m guessing that’s because she was an Earth (she loved being a stay at home mother) and he was a Wood (he ran his own consulting firm). They raised three happy children, loved their grandchildren, but always took time for themselves, too. Sadly, my father passed away a year ago and not unexpectedly, my mother took it really hard. Since then, she hasn’t been able to find any joy in life and seems to have pulled away completely. In many ways it feel like we lost both of them when Dad died, and I’m wondering if there is any way to bring my mom back; we all miss her terribly. Thanks for any advice you can offer. Signed: Orphaned in Oregon
Dear Orphaned: When a couple has had a long and happy marriage, it isn’t uncommon for the surviving spouse to have a hard time adjusting to life alone. It can be especially hard for an Earth because long-term connections drive Earths and give meaning to their lives. The flip side of this, however, is that sometimes it can be easiest to bring Earths back from the despair of loss if there are relationships remaining in their lives that are deep and meaningful. It sounds like this is the case for your mother.
Grief counselors are quick to point out that there is no “correct” amount of time to spend grieving the loss of someone dear. Different people, and elements, will need different time and space to grieve. However, a year is usually long enough to respect the grief and start taking action to bring the person back into the flow and connections of life. If done gently and without insistence, here are several ways you can encourage your Earth Mother to rejoin her family.
First, it’s important to remember that your mother is used to the structure of her Wood husband. With him gone, she may need help structuring her life. You don’t mention what your element is, or the elements of your siblings, but if any of you are Woods, it might be helpful to bring that familiar energy to discussions with your mother about her life as she moves forward. Earths have their own structure, which when balanced often feels rich and supporting, but when stressed can take on the character of indehiscent, cracked dirt. Providing familiar structure for her might make it feel safe and comfortable for her to move forward.
Another important way to help your mother re-enter your lives is to show her how much you need her. It is possible that to give her the space to grieve, you have been managing her affairs and your own so as not to worry her (which, as the daughter of an Earth, you know she can do). However, your mother might interpret this as an indication that she is no longer needed. Remember, Earths need to be needed at some level. Help her see how much you all still need and love her.
Finally, as you well know, Earths thrive on deep, lasting connections. And while one has been taken away from her, she still has a family full of them left. If you’ve been giving her space to heal, it’s probably a good time to start actively including her in as many family events as possible. You may have to bring her to the event and take her home, but do whatever is necessary to make it easy for her to attend. I truly believe that time with her remaining family will remind her how much she needs and wants your connections. This will help bring your missing mother back up from the depths where she sank. Good luck!