Tag Archives: grief

I was visiting with a fellow human being this week, an artist, a healer. She told me something that I have considered all week. Perhaps it was the reference to something so mysterious, or maybe it was how it incited my imagination, or maybe it was that it is just a fact. Things, people, even places disappear, and we never lay eyes on them again. But that is not exactly what she said.  What she said was, “Let go of the single socks in your sock drawer.”

When she said it, I imagined all the missing socks. They were hiking in droves, some massive migration. To where, I don’t know.  All I know is that they were leaving. They never left a note, never a word indicating their imminent departure. One day, they just up and left. So do I keep the other single socks in hopes of the return of the now invisible others? Or do I keep them as a reminder that things can go missing? A sort of tally of things that I have lost. Or do I keep them to shepherd the lonely and abandoned; after all, I have been lonely and abandoned in my life and I wouldn’t want someone to toss me in the rag bag or worse, the kitchen trash bin.

At some point in my life, I noticed the single socks. And being an organized sort of person, I set up a system to manage this dilemma.  It is my nature to make sense of things. So I periodically gathered the losers up, tied them into a parcel using one of their own and, on the next inquiry, if their mates didn’t show up, I tossed the lot of them. Poor things, it was rare that the others ever returned. And I did feel badly. I wanted the others to return, for everyone to feel whole and happy again. It was a practical system I had developed, but even so, it didn’t suit another aspect of my being.  I am a romantic. It felt cruel, or at least wasteful. There was so much potential in the metaphor; too much to just throw it all away. So for a while the kids and I turned them into puppets, stuffed them with cat nip, or wore them as mismatched as they were.

What about the socks in your sock drawer? How many have jumped ship? How many are determined to stay the course as reminders of what could have been, or of what once was? And what about you? Do you even know what is in there? Are you afraid to look? Is it easy to let the loners go? Is it necessary to help them find new meaning in life? Can you let go of the great mystery of what happens to the socks? And then how do you live in a world where things just up and disappear?

Today is the new moon in Gemini. It is conjunct with the Sun and Venus and nicely aspected by Jupiter. Think a perfect pair of the finest socks. You love them. They are the best money can buy. Go ahead and wear them with the satisfaction of knowing that even if they disappear, you will always have Paris.

In the midst of what you see as problematic, it can be difficult to recognize the opportunities. I can help you discover a new way of thinking that will assist you in managing and negotiating life’s obstacles. You will find that this new way of thinking provides you opportunities that you hadn’t previously noticed as well as affords you the confidence and desire to live your life in the driver’s seat.

Tami Satterfield, MSW, LCSW-C, NBCCH, HTP is a licensed psychotherapist who practices solution-oriented healing from a deep ecological perspective. Her specialities include hypnosis for anxiety, performance, and creativity. Sessions on-line or in Boulder, Colorado include cutting edge brain therapies that will change the way you think. Learn more at

cat on moon
The Sun, Moon, Mercury, Saturn and Uranus form a Grand Trine in the Fire signs today. Everything is moving forward, even if it is a surprise. But I wasn’t really surprised in the wee hours of the morning when I knew that Martin was on the move. Martin was our twentysomething cat. I knew it was coming.  I knew it like the way you can feel about an medical procedure: necessary, but painful. But all that fire in the celestial sky draws in air and it is a good thing too.  I am grateful for my breath assisting me through my mourning this morning.

This is not the post I thought I would be writing today, but my life progressed. It moved forward. Martin’s passing is teaching me gratitude. That, I did not see coming, but thankfully, my short sight doesn’t undermine the lesson I am learning.

Today’s lesson: I cared for this creature boldly, saved his life twice and was with him until the end. He in turn, allowed me my competence. He graciously allowed me to care for him, to save his life, to love him. We collaborated.  He cared for me, saved my life, and loved me back.

Moving forward can sometimes feel like the end of something. It can feel that way, because it is. But you can’t move forward without putting time and space between the past and the present. It just can’t be done. No way, now how. Sorry, just stating the facts. Martin’s departure has an obvious ending, but more interesting is the promising beginning. For Martin, for me, for even you and you maybe didn’t even know Martin.

Martin’s service is greater than I can know today. I cared well for him over the years, but it pales to the over whelming gratitude I feel today in recognizing that I am losing something I love more profoundly then I even knew.

The complexity of grief is more than an attachment to some expectation about Martin and me. It is the knowing, in my bones, that I have loved and have been loved.  It is the giving over to the fear and finding my way to trust in the simplicity of the circle: beginning, becoming, ending, loss of becoming, transubstantiation of loss, rebirth, and begin again.

Hmm, it is humbling for sure.  But that too, has purpose.  It is only in humility that rebirth is born.

Move forward fearlessly. Welcome the whole catastrophe. See your life in it’s wholeness. Mind seeing it as separate or definitive. And if you like, look out the window tonight and wish Martin a safe and fruitful journey.

Ready to live more mindfully? Contact Tami and make next year the year of living consciously.

Saturn has ruled the August sky and that is a bit unusual. Maybe when there is such drama as the Perseid meteor shower, it is reasonable to expect a serious planet, like Saturn, to step into the spot light. It might be a bit like the over-serious parent who hovers over the activities of a child’s birthday party with the sentiment of, “that is enough, somebody is going to put an eye out!”

Seriously, serious qualities have there place and sometimes a good proctor is exactly what life needs. Like when it comes time to pay the bills, change the batteries in the fire detectors, or manage the consumption of medicine. But sometimes seriousness can take itself too seriously, for too long. This month you may have been running into that, either thinking to seriously yourself or running into someone else who is. There may have been times this month where you wanted to say (or someone said to you), “Seriously, lighten up. Nobody put an eye out!”

We have a supermoon this week. That means the moon appears very close to earth. From the perspective of our work, that may mean a magnification or illumination of these very old and serious patterns. Think about the good old days and recall some of the trouble you got into. It was serious business. It may have caused you some grief. If you think about it, you might even see that this idea about responsible (with a capital R and said in a very serious voice followed by the words, “young lady or man”) is one you have carried with you all the way up to today. The good news, and isn’t it nice that there is always good news in a two sided coin, is that this is a good week for wrapping up some of that old, serious shame. It might be that whatever it is you did way back then is worthy of reconciliation and forgiveness.

This week, notice what you are feeling and then notice the shadow of judgment over your right shoulder. It might be that your past shame is casting a shadow of doubt across the confidence of your future or that it is causing you to be a shadow of yourself. It might be time to lighten up a bit, after all it may just be that no body did put an eye out. It might be time to forgive.

If you would like to discuss this, visit and schedule an appointment today!

OBITUARY 07/10/14

Oh, my heavy heart.

My dear friend, Ringo, departed.

Gone from this world on the energy of this full moon in Capricorn, he takes with him my love and leaves me our sweet memories, now blunt and thorny – bittersweet. How fitting — he was an old goat.

A fine creature. A noble, four legged, hoofed beast with the patience and benevolence of a saint. He was friendly and generous with his time. Anyone who knew him said so. It was true. It was the truth of him. He was a beautiful, old, charitable soul.

I will sorely miss his company. Lumbering my way, his head lifting to meet my approach. The look of curiosity in his wild eyes, meeting me half way, walking all the way at my side, chewing his cud seeming to mull over my mood. I will miss rubbing the brittle old scratchy hairs, white with age, on the sides of his face. I will miss nearly kissing his black goat lips, the temptation if it weren’t for the green goo in his teeth. I will miss his lordly belching and pissing, his physiological response to my presence – his way of substantiating rapport, teaching me that we were in fact similar and not different – both tethered souls to ever-aging bodies. I long one more look at his broken polled horn that gave the impression of a skewed halo. One last tug at the tuft of hairs bearded at his chin. What I would do for one last time of sharing peppermint candies.

The last time I did see him, he looked me straight in my eyes. It seemed odd, him looking straight through me. He looked straight into my eyes and I misunderstood him. “Are you okay?” I asked. He held my gaze. I mistook what he said, didn’t know he was looking past the old body of me and into my soul. I didn’t know he was saying goodbye. It doesn’t make any difference that I am a slow learner. He knew. He knew I would figure it out.

How lucky am I to have known him – to have studied and practiced lessons of life under his sage guidance?

May he rest in peace. Ringo, the last of the bad boys.


ShameWorking with shame is one of the most important emotions to process in therapy. So many presenting problems have an additional underlying layer of shame and this is often why clients still struggle with issues even after they seem to be reconciled. As we address the issue, it’s important to differentiate between guilt and shame. When clients feel guilt, they grapple with something they have done and feel remorse about it. They can often work through this by taking responsibility or doing something proactive. They can apologize or make amends in a variety of ways, and this allows them to achieve a satisfying degree of self-forgiveness and healing. However, feeling shame is not about what you’ve done, it’s about who you believe you are as a person. As you can imagine, this is much harder to reconcile when you feel fundamentally damaged, broken, incompetent or bad. This shame-based mindset profoundly influences all of our thoughts, feelings and behavioral choices. All human beings are vulnerable to feeling shame, but this may be even more complicated for men.

Much has been written about the acculturation of boys and the powerful messages they get about what it means to be “a successful man.” Some of these messages include: always be emotionally strong; handle challenges alone and don’t ask for help; avoid being vulnerable; always exude confidence; be clever and know how to solve problems; be responsible for everything; and self-worth is contingent upon your job and how much money you make. Although these messages are inherently unfair to boys and men, when they “fall short” in any of these arenas, it can be very shame inducing. Part of the challenge is rooted in the fact that the messages that create anxiety, self-doubt, depression, anger, grief and shame are the very same messages that evoke bravado and prevent boys and men from seeking the support and help they need in therapy.

When men live with shame, it breaks the bond that makes attachment, intimacy, and closeness in relationships possible. Shame may be masked by grief or anger, and as those emotional layers are peeled away, there is an opportunity to address the deeper shame dynamic that prevents true healing. The problem is really a systemic one. We must move in the direction of normalizing vulnerability in boys, including the right to cry, ask for help, feel fear, seek and give appropriate physical affection, and not have all the answers. Boys need to be supported in pursuing the things they love, letting go of gender-biases about what’s “appropriate” for them to enjoy doing. As adolescents and adults, they need to be encouraged to seek out therapy when they grapple with trauma, abuse, neglect or other painful experiences. Boys and men need to be given the communication skills that will enable them to freely express themselves, strengthening their emotional IQ’s. If we, as a society, can commit to providing these skills and supports throughout childhood, it would go a long way in ending the seeds of shame that get planted in childhood and then take root in adulthood.


I learned what you did,
And then what she did,
And then what he did about what you did.
And I saw that she and he felt fury for what you did.
And I thought about what you did,
And I remembered that someone said maybe he did that too.
And then I wondered if you did that to him.

I learned what you did,
And then everything changed.
Like a thin veil of fog blazed by the sun,
Burned off,
Exposing the raw truth of you, and her, and her.
I stepped around it carefully.
Tripped wires,

Wired and wired and wired.
“I can’t make sense of this,” I said to him.
And he said, “I will kill him.”
And I felt afraid for him,
And for her,
And for her,
And for her.

I learned what you did,
And then it was crystal clear
What I would do.
Sounds from a Greek chorus.
Perfectly choreographed
Sunlight magnified on the pitch of the truth,
Set a fire that I could not contain.

Oliver in a Winter Wonderland

“I love that old man,” he said
And hunched over swinging his arms and picking up his feet,
Looking like an elephant muppet.
Flippity flop, flippity flop,
He showed me how you moved across the floor and out the door.
Like a puppet in a curly white coat,
Feet made of mops,
Off you went.

We calculated you were nearly 98 years old
When you didn’t come back.
We called and called for you
And we called others
To call and call for you.
Searching the yard, the road, the woods;
making a wide berth around the river,
Your favorite morning drink.

From the street I heard
The great moan of a tree just before it lays down.
I ran, knowing
Before I ever descended down that hill.
The earth quaked up out of me.
The trees picked it up and the early January sky filled
As the river valley echoed it back to me.
This drowning wake I came to know as ours.

And the other,
Dressed for handling papers and pens,
Squatted on the muddy bank and
Agreed to be keeper of time, witness of grief,
Pulled us from what was becoming our own etheric, watery world
And helped lift you from the gentle drink you rested in.
So peaceful looking.
I couldn’t help but notice.

Your beautiful tendrils of hair afloat like that of a mermaid.
Your body relaxed in the cold, clear Gunpowder River
And for a moment it all made sense.
You, that lovely, graceful creature.
In the flow of life.
Setting off.
Floating away.
F l o a t i n g o n b y.

By the tree, where you had minded over a decade of laughing kids,
Barking and nipping at their untucked shirts as they defied gravity from a tire swing.
And the boy, who is now a man,
Came flying through the field of beasts of burden.
Still and wide-eyed, they watched, bearing witness to our drama.
And down that hill
He fell to his knees and cried “No!” at seeing you so still.
And I heard her cat cries as they broke into sobs of sorrow from miles away.

I imagine
That everyone in the river valley felt our grief that morning
Vibrate through their kitchens
As they poured coffee.
For a moment and in a moment,
They paused,
“Did you feel that? What was that?”
Hymns of the Greek Chorus.

He carried you up to the garden where all before you lie.
And the earth was kind and opened easily for you.
We placed you in a bed of forgiving dirt.
Forgiving us
For our human tangle of doubt and fear.
Our clumsy words,
Flippity flopped, flippity flopped,
Absorbed into the soft clay hole of our hearts.

And like the earth,
And the river that morning,
The night sky opened to the Heavens.
A sailor’s paradise.
Jupiter sat right above your grave.
Stars and planets shivered in revery as you passed,
Curtseying and bowing to your greatness.
And he and she and he and I stood on this earth and waved goodbye.

"Each paradox is understood only from its own level of perception" by T. Boehle oil on panel 2012

“Each paradox is understood only from its own level of perception” by T. Boehle oil on panel 2012

I dreamed of a tortoise as big as a car swimming in turquoise waters and with great excitement I called, “Hurry come see!” I felt the anticipation of other’s joy at witnessing such splendor.  The steady work of gracefully gliding through glass waters.  I watched from a bank of windows on a boat that rocked and rolled, bowing in your greatness.  And then, it seemed that I was disconnected from joy when you passed behind the only wall stationed between the windows.  I felt lost and disoriented.  Not making sense of where you’d gone.  And like a child learning that a toy train rounding the tracks isn’t gone when it travels through the tunnel, but only out of site.  Relieved and restored, I may have clapped my hands and stood reaching on tip toes when I saw you come from behind the blind. You are still here even when I can’t see you.

"I Once Was a Line of Trees on the Crest of a Hill" by T. Boehle oil and plaster on board copyright 2010

"I Once Was a Line of Trees on the Crest of a Hill" by T. Boehle oil and plaster on board copyright 2010

It washed over me.  Like a hot flash it engulfed my chest. Tight and restricted, bound by some greatness.  My head was slow to realize the meaning of the pain. The burning hot sensation of sorrow rose from my heart to my voice and from deep within I drew a long and low moan.  Startled by its audio frequency, fear now mixed with sadness.  I found myself confused.  I didn’t know my own depth.  From where did I draw this convulsed and agonized creature?  And then, without notice, like the sudden drop in a carnival ride I plummeted into an abyss so deep and dark, surely I had died.

Breath caught in my throat, of no use to my lungs or heart. I held his unshaven face in my hands.  A fleeting thought of how beautiful his face when clean-shaven.  I bit my tongue and realized my true transgression, surprising myself and him by my touch.  How long had it been since I touched his face?  That I dared to hold a part of him in my hands?  I kissed his cheek; “my favorite boy”, I said through a dissolving wall of tears.  His face widened with the slight parting of his lips, as they drew back, muscles pulled his cheeks towards dancing eyes.  I couldn’t watch.  And so, thrust myself to hide my head aside his.  Something tightened in and then around my throat and I fought to speak my mind.  The heat of it burned and rose to disfigure my face. Ugly with raw emotion, I managed to break through breaking down.  “I will miss you desperately.”  Breathe.  I drew a breath and brought some composure to myself as I drew back to meet his eyes.  He still held the slight of his smile, but his eyes were rimmed in tears.

Theie appearance, like a performer’s cue though neither of us were performing, our scene was well choreographed.  It was beautiful.  I knew it and he knew it.  It’s beauty provided us shelter from the raw reality of grief and sorrow and fear.  “I am so excited for you.”  I positioned myself with greater distance.  My hands resting at his elbows.  “Go and show everyone just how wonderful I know you are.”  I stepped back.   Our eyes letting the other go, ever so slightly, but all the same.  The muscles on his face working easily to draw that fabulous smile into place.  A crowd pleaser for sure.  Another step back put me three quarters turned from his square.  Somewhere in my mind I knew it is all math.  He had been a part of the sum of my existence and without him I was a fraction of myself.  An irrational number.  One that can’t be expressed, like the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter.  Would the object of my life become the counting and measuring of the distance between us?

I drew a cleansing breath and felt it douse the fire.  I gave him that all knowing smile and raised my eyebrows reminding us both that I once had great influence.  I once moved the stars and the moon.  And it was I who told him of the great green room.   I was once the center of his universe.  My hands slipped from his elbow, one catching one of his hands.   I held it knowing it wouldn’t last long.  It was all coming to an end.  “Everyday,” I said taking my last shot.  “Go.   Everyday, and share how wonderful you.” He allowed me this.  Granted me one last wish.  In the fairy tale of my mind I curtsied like an old nursemaid to the young prince.  Keeping that to myself, I began my descent back to the car.  Just as I turned he got the last words in. “Thanks mom. I love you”.

I saw his face, his lips move to make the words sing from his mouth.  Overcome by the beauty of it all, I turned slumped in pain and grief.  I didn’t see him climb aboard the bus.  I sat in the car knowing that there was no other option for me than to peer into the darkened windows hoping to catch a glimpse of him.  Waiting for the bus door to close.  Listening for the mechanical sound of the driver shifting into drive.  The bus lurches forward in sound and space. And he is gone.  No amount of my watching will change that.