The joy that comes of feeling one’s grief rather than suppressing it is but one instance of the dark gold to be mined from the shadow. Other forms of dark gold include increased self-acceptance, healthier personal relationships, greater control over one’s unwanted emotional reactions and access to previously untapped creative energies. Moreover, every gain that one makes in reclaiming his or her own shadow improves the overall state of the collective shadow, which in turn brings the Earth community closer to being healed. “Since the collective shadow is comprised of the projections of individuals,” writes Baker, “even minimal reclamation of our own projections facilitates harmonious communication and interaction within the human community and the planet at large.”
Never in the history of our species have we so desperately needed to engage in conscious grieving. Not only are we carrying decades of our own grief, but we almost certainly are carrying the grief of past generations and the grief of other species. In fact, I believe that other species are asking us—perhaps even begging us to grieve their losses. When he is able to grieve, says Weller, his ability to feel this planetary pain “puts me back in a profound state of relatedness to where I live, to the watershed, to my home.” (143-144) Some may assume that given the state of the planet, grieving is pointless. Yet The Wild Edge of Sorrow asserts that, “…we have to keep some sense of our deep soul obligation to the planet alive, no matter if we are leaving. I feel it is an imperative that I do whatever I can to register the sorrows of the planet. We have to remember that much of the grief that we are feeling isn’t ours. It isn’t personal. We are literally feeling the sorrows of the watershed.” (143-144) In fact, the entire Earth community has a right to our bearing witness to their losses.