The Door is Shut: Managing a Metal in Grief

Dear Vicki: My mother died earlier this year and made my older brother Paul the executor of her will and estate. I understand this, as coming from a family of lots of Water, Fire, and Earth, he stands out as being responsible and ordered. I’m sure Paul is a Metal and he has taken this task very seriously, like it’s his mission. The problem is that Paul has connected with a woman who wants to buy Mom’s house straight out, but I think it should go to an auction. I have tried to discuss this with Paul, but he refuses to budge. I have absolutely no idea how to resolve this. How can I approach Paul and this situation without inflaming it? I feel extremely frustrated and angry, like he has slammed the door in my face. This is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. Help! Signed: Saddened Sister

Dear Saddened Sister: First, let me extend my condolences on the loss of your mother. This is sure to be a difficult time for your whole family.

To help you address this issue, let’s look at the Five Element dynamics. If you are a Water/Wood and Paul is a Metal, here’s what’s probably going on. Because of the loss of your mother, you and Paul are both immersed in grief, endings, and letting go, all of which sit in Metal. That means that you are an honorary Metal right now and Paul likely has extra Metal, a fact that could create a tendency for him to believe he is correct in everything he does. In his mind, your mother chose him as the executor of the estate for a reason. And remember, he will not take this approach in an egotistic way. It will just be a matter of fact for him.

If Paul has made it his “mission” to settle the estate, he will go at it with order and vigor, determined to do it the “right” way, which is of paramount importance to Metals. Process and protocol guide their lives. And more Metal means more structure, so what you are likely experiencing from Paul is his inflexible march toward accomplishing his mission.

You have not made clear why you are unhappy with Paul selling the house to the woman who wants to buy it. Do you believe Paul is giving her too low a price and that an auction would bring a better price? Do you feel it unfair that this woman would be the only one who might have the opportunity to purchase the house? Is there something else?

The potentially lower price or unfairness of this woman being the only one with a chance to buy the house would definitely bother your Wood. Obtaining the best price and being fair both sit in Wood. The fact that you are extremely frustrated and angry also suggests that your Wood is upset. And while this could be because of Paul’s actions, it could also be a reaction to his temporarily increased Metal energy. Metal controls Wood, and it’s not uncommon for too much Metal energy to significantly upset a Wood. Sometimes this is for good reason and sometimes the reason won’t matter; the feeling of control just bothers the Wood.

Another issue at play here is the fact that Paul’s Metal builds your Water (Metal feeds Water). Your own temporary extra Metal will also feed your Water. Too much energy can cause a Water to become somewhat paranoid and suspicious, and it’s possible that this might be contributing to your concerns around Paul. More importantly, more Water will mean more energy flowing to your Wood (Water feeds Wood), which can heighten your feelings of frustration and anger if things aren’t going the way you think they should.

So, how can you approach Paul about the situation without upsetting him, or your relationship? First, I would suggest that you take a few steps to calm and center your Wood. Wood and Metal both have control issues — Metal likes to be in control and Wood doesn’t like to be out of control — so you want to be sure Paul doesn’t perceive your interventions as bids for control. Right now, with extra Water building your Wood and extra Metal decreasing it, your Wood is probably feeling rather unstable. Before approaching Paul, try balancing and grounding your Wood using sound and essential oils. To balance Wood with sound, inhale sharply, then exhale quickly making the sound, “Shhhhhhhhh,” pushing the last of the sound out at the end. Do this several times. To balance Wood with essential oils, obtain either peppermint or lavender oil and rub a few drops on your skin so that the scent is just noticeable. Or place a few drops of the oil on a tissue and inhale.

Once you feel grounded, reach out to Paul and express your concerns regarding the way he’s selling the house. Metals do well when approached with rationality and logic. If he is balanced himself, he should readily see the wisdom in your concerns and you will be able to discuss in a calm manner ways to address them.

However, if he is in a place of too much Metal (which is possible given he is a Metal grieving a loss), he might be dismissive of your concerns or more determined than ever to control the outcome. If this happens, you need to surround him with Fire energy (Fire controls Metal). Give him a bright red shirt to wear, offer him red clover tea, or suggest that he might find it calming to wear eucalyptus oil. All of this will help balance his Metal.

And the good news is that because Metals are so mental, even the slightest shift toward balance will help him open that shut door and respond positively to a well-reasoned discussion regarding your concerns. That is the beauty of Metal. I wish you all the best.

metal door

4 thoughts on “The Door is Shut: Managing a Metal in Grief

  1. Vicki, I love your insights with relationships pertaining to the 5 Elements. With every article I understand more clearly how the 5 Elements affect us in relationships… and how we gain understanding and can help to bring balance as we look to the Control and Flow Cycles. I have recommended your blog to many people. Thank you for the great service you offer.

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