Sun shining through leaves on a tree with blue sky behind

Finding comfort in the Forest

21 July 2021
Annie Hoeman

Since losing her husband Mike, Annie has sought solace in nature, finding both comfort and strength in the Forest. Here she shares her personal experience, in the hope that it helps others coping with grief.

“Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower:
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind.”

This is a from a poem by William Wordsworth, an environmentalist in his own time and a passionate conservationist. He certainly lived in a beautiful area, the Lake District has inspired many artists and writers, and brought calm and strength to countless others.

The Heart of England Forest has given us the opportunity to commemorate the life of a loved one by planting or dedicating a tree in memory. One such area where you will find dedications is Dorothy’s Wood, and spending time there is a very spiritual experience that gave me much comfort after the death of my late husband, Mike. He was Canadian and loved the great outdoors, whatever the season. 

When I walk in the Forest I feel close to him and marvel at the strength and height of some of the trees which remind me of him before he became ill. It gives me great comfort to know that in the continuity of nature we can experience the cycle of life in all its wonder. I wonder at autumn with the leaves on the ground, knowing that sap will rise again and there will be a rebirth in the spring after the “little death” of winter.

Have you ever wondered why you like to walk in the natural environment? If you are a list maker (like me) you would soon run out of paper! Top of my list would be the air on my face, no matter whether cold, wet, and windy or hot, with the rays of the sun burning my cheeks, even after Factor 50! 

To breathe deeply and inhale the fresh air is a joy – I am sure many of us experience this even more after the wearing of masks in the current crisis. It has become a real privilege now, hasn’t it? 

Let us treasure it and feel gratitude to all those involved in keeping us safe. Our lungs are so precious, and the lungs of the environment are our trees, so let us treasure them also.