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A sacred heart

by Margaret Taddy


This is the script people say when someone dies: How are you? How are you doing? Are you ok? Followed with: Let me know if you need anything. With care, friends and colleagues would ask, and I felt like I had to answer. What do we expect the answer to be? I was functioning well, carrying on as they say, but feeling like I had to get to a spot (in my head or otherwise) when I could just be sad and expect no outcome, no resolution. I felt like I wasn’t really feeling my feelings or say what I needed, stressing me out even more. I learned to say: Thank you for asking. Call your mom, hug her if you can. And to a few people I could say: My heart is broken and I want the space to hold it. I vowed to never ask anyone questions like that if they had a loss or a huge issue in their life.


Moss-filled woods with a bit of sunlight poking through
The woods of Margaret's childhood home.

I lost my mom in the spring of 2022. Due to my own self-study over the years, my mind knew that linden was helpful with grief, and I felt like a hand stretching out, fingers in all directions, reaching for anything that would help me find my way as I processed losing her. A few days a week, I made a linden infusion, and I felt space in which I could start to care for myself. Linden really helped me, and held me— like a gentle hand, a hug—the best way I can describe it. The same way that I can still feel my mom’s gentle hand on my shoulder, reassuring me that all will be ok.


There is so much ‘business’ when someone passes, coupled with the urge to get it all done so you can ‘move on’. Once a baby sister, always one, and truthfully—as the youngest of three—my sisters did so much of the work. My mom did a lot of preparation for her passing as well—her will, her wishes, her cremation package. So many other things needed to be done after she passed, but the big items she took care of. When I mentioned this to a friend, she said your mom is still taking care of you. And that was her in a nutshell—planning ahead, never wanting my sisters and I to worry about her, or to feel like a burden. Always thoughtful and thinking of the future, her prayers still protecting us. Wanting so much for us, and sacrificing a lot to lift us up. I felt so grateful for all she did, and also guilty that I couldn’t be with her more. My sisters and I were with her in her final days, but not in her final minutes. I felt guilty about that as well. 


Beautiful linden leaves and flowers overhead
Sunlight shines through summer linden blossoms.

In Claudia’s October 2023 materia medica presentation of linden (Tilia spp.) she referenced it as being a hug-in-a-mug. The class was incredibly reflective and emotional for me, and it allowed me to gain huge insight of how linden supported me then and still does. It wasn’t until this class that I realized how much linden helped me drop in, settle into grief, and gain a comfort that all was well and would be taken care of. Linden rounded out the edges, gave me permission to not rush or push away my heartache, to not be hard on myself. At first, my heart felt muted, almost covered, and I really can see now that linden helped open it to accept however I was feeling. When I drank linden, it felt soft and spread out, like a gentle cover to what feels cold and exposed. I gained a knowing that I would always miss my mom, and that was ok. We are still together, just in different forms and with new ways of communicating. I tell my son: grandma is still with us and you can talk to her whenever you want, and she loves you. Grace is the biggest gift we can give ourselves and each other. It’s knowing that I’m not alone, something I felt as a child when I would wander into the woods by myself for hours; the plants are that same presence for me as an adult.  


We know linden is beneficial for our heart and nervous system, and many other actions helps with elevated blood pressure, opening blood vessels and toning the circulatory system when tense, particularly with emotions (and grief). Linden is also relaxing to the nervous system, calming the mind and body. I picture linden as that solid, sturdy tree that provides respite and a quiet, muted space; provides shelter, with it’s fluttering heart-shaped green leaves and small specks of vanilla that catch and buffer the wind. Moving with the waves of grief but creating a space for it that is separate from the outside world. Allowing that grief to move through you, around you, almost as a comfort. A comfort because the heartache is a reminder that you were loved (still are!) and loved somebody (still do!), and how wonderful that was (and is!). Now, two years later her passing, grieving is another part of my experience in this life, and it is a welcome friend, a space to connect with my heart.  


 

 Margaret Taddy is a first-year student at Arbor Vitae.

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