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When Elephants Die

Peggy Green - Thee Grief Specialist
by Peggy Green of Thee Grief Specialist
I have always felt compassion and understanding for others on a higher level. I am an empath and highly sensitive to the emotions of others. As an empath, I already feel everything on a more intense level. Even day-to-day events can hit a nerve and create an emotional response.
It is no surprise that what I recently saw on television rocked my world. I was donating blood and the TV monitor was on, without sound and without closed captions. The show was similar to what you would see on National Geographic. There were scenes of an African tundra, dotted with wild animals when I noticed an adult giraffe falling to the ground.
Without context from sound or closed captions, I had no idea of what caused him to fall. It looked slow and painful as this tall, majestic, and graceful creature collapsed, coming to rest in stillness. All 15-20 feet of him lay still as the other giraffes watched. I don’t know if he was shot, or if the cameraman managed to catch him as he died a natural death. All I know, is that I watched him die. My heart started pounding and tears fell from my eyes.
Not more than 15 minutes later, as the tv program continued, I watched a herd of elephants surround a young, baby elephant who was obviously sick and dying. They gently nuzzled him with their trunks and toes until he moved no more. They stood still and I grasped the enormity of their loss.
The next scene shows an elephant, I presume the mother, running by herself off in the distance. It is amazing how I felt her pain, the pain of losing her calf.
This example of the natural order, part of the circle of life, has me thinking even more about mothers who have lost a child.
My daughter is buried in a part of the cemetery that I call “Baby Land”. It is an area set aside by the cemetery dedicated to children. When I visit her grave, I spend time talking to her. I also spend time thinking about the other families whose children are buried with my daughter. From the headstones, I can see how old they were. Some of them are still born or make it only a few days or hours. Some are a little bit older, 9 months like my daughter and then on up to 8-10 years old. I feel the parents’ pain. I wonder how they are doing. I cry for them because I know their pain all too well.
The giraffe, elephant and cemetery remind me that I am human. I have remained compassionate and understanding of others and their circumstances through my losses. My tears flow easily when my heart tells me to do so. There is no shame in being human and crying. As a matter of fact, I encourage you to shed a tear when your heart tells you.
This ability to relate to others and their pain is what allows me to help them through it. Having lost two children, both parents, my sister and other close friends and family, I know what it feels like. I have been a grieving mom for 30 years, yet I have also been a healing mom for 30 years. Each time I lose someone, I go back to square one, starting a new grief journey, yet with each loss, I also have more skills and resources to navigate my loss.
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