Death, Guilt, and Healing: Helping a Wood Rebuild

Dear Vicki: I’m hoping you can help my brother, Brad, who was in a terrible car accident three years ago. It was winter and the road conditions weren’t great here in Maine, but he and his best friend were determined to go skiing. We tried to talk them out of it, but they laughed at us and went ahead. Brad was driving when another car, going way too fast, lost control and skidded into them. Brad survived, but his best friend was killed. Brad did rehab for months and healed pretty well, but he is a changed person. He used to be a loud, assertive, wheeler dealer who turned around a chain of failing sporting goods stores, but now his heart doesn’t seem to be in anything. He’s closed one of his stores and the other two aren’t doing so well. It’s not like he’s super depressed anymore, it’s just that he’s not his normal outgoing self. Is there some way the Five Elements can help him get back to who he was before the accident? I think he was a Wood, so should I make him wear green? Signed: Sad Sister in Maine 

Dear Sad Sister: My heart goes out to your brother. The loss of someone close to us is always difficult, but the idea that we had something to do with it can be especially hard to bear. I think you are correct – Brad does sound like a Wood. Woods are adventuresome and rarely back down from a challenge. Weather probably wouldn’t stop a Wood determined to push through. That’s the MO of Wood: Just do it! It’s true that Woods are risk takers, but they usually aren’t reckless enough to take more of a risk than they think they can handle. Brad correctly assumed that he could manage the road conditions. The problem was that someone else apparently couldn’t.

There are several factors at play when a Wood goes though what Brad has experienced. First, remember that Woods need to keep moving toward a goal; the worst thing that can happen to a Wood is for something to stop their forward movement. For Brad, the accident not only stopped the movement of his car, it ended the trajectory his life had been taking. No longer was life about being a successful businessman. Instead, he was faced with months of trying to reclaim his health and body functioning. And even more significantly, he had to come to terms with the loss of his best friend. This last aspect was certainly made harder for Brad given that he was driving when the accident occurred. The guilt he feels must be profound. I’m assuming you’ve encouraged Brad to seek professional help. Hopefully he is seeing a counselor on a regular basis, which will help. But there are ways the Five Elements can help, too, so let’s take a look.

First, loss and grief sit in Metal. It would be impossible for Brad not to feel grief over the loss of his best friend. This means he has moved into a Metal place. But Metal is what controls Wood, so an abundance of Metal in Brad’s life means that there is even less of his Wood to keep him moving forward. Less Wood also means that Brad has no way to control the Earth tendency to feel guilty over what happened (Wood controls Earth). Brad’s Earth will be especially upset because not only does he feel a sense of responsibility, he also lost a deep, close relationship, which is what Earth’s live for. Unfortunately, under-controlled Earth energy will build even more Metal (Earth feeds Metal). This excess Metal will feed Water’s tendency for depression (Metal feeds Water) and of course, over-control Brad’s Wood, which will not be able to control his Earth, and the cycle goes on and on.

What Brad needs is a way to break this cycle and build his Wood. The Water energy created by the extra Metal energy should be helping with that (Water feeds Wood), but it clearly hasn’t been enough. And given the severity of what Brad has been through, and how long this has been going on, surrounding him with green, asking him to wear malachite, or encouraging him to drink lemon water probably won’t do it, either. They will certainly balance functioning Wood, but it’s likely that Brad’s Wood is pretty shut down. After all, it was his Wood sense of adventure that got him where he is. When an element is shut down, it can’t do what it normally does (for example, Brad’s Wood not accepting the Water energy that could build it). When something this dramatic happens, it means that the whole system can get stuck. But fear not, there is a way to help.

The one element we haven’t mentioned so far is Fire. As we describe the dynamics playing out for Brad, Fire has been completely bypassed; it’s not contributing to the mix as it should. More Fire will unstick the system by decreasing Metal and preventing it from over-controlling Brad’s Wood (Fire controls Metal). It will also make it easier for Brad to move past the situation because excessive Metal has a hard time letting go (Fire controls Metal). And more importantly, Fire will help by calling Brad’s Wood back into action (Wood feeds Fire).

What Brad needs is more Fire. It’s winter in Maine, and while winter is Water time, frozen Water is hard to access. Plus, a Maine winter is certainly not warm or fiery. Is it possible to get Brad to take a break away from Maine and go someplace tropical and warm? This will not only decrease Metal by removing him from the place that represents sadness and loss, it will bring in the Fire energy needed to loosen things up. Not only will this rebalance his elements, it will also likely offer him a fresh perspective on things. Woods are visionaries and look to the future. If Brad’s Wood comes back to life, he will start seeing options and opportunities for himself going forward. Hopefully, this kind of break will help get Brad interested in being Brad again.

And of course, if a vacation someplace warm is out of the question, you can encourage him to do whatever he can to introduce Fire. Yes, have him wear red, eat spicy food, wear garnets, use rosemary or lavender essential oils, and hang out in saunas or steam showers. These will all slowly help build the energy of Fire. But if at all possible, taking Brad someplace warm near water (or on a cruise) and away from memories of his friend should help him find himself. And he may never be exactly who he was before the accident – horrific situations like that change us – but he can be more of his Wood self. Many blessings to you and Brad. May the light of Fire warm his Wood.

fire snow

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