I don’t remember where I first heard of “telling the bees,” but I had a beautiful reminder of the soulful tradition when I read The Beekeeper’s Promise last summer.
The practice of notifying the hives or telling the bees when a momentous event (usually the death of the master or mistress, but also births, weddings, children, etc.) appears in many European folklore traditions, as bees are often seen as a link between the physical and spiritual worlds. Some say it has its roots in the Celtic culture; this resonates with my soul beautifully.
I though back to this when my dad died in October. He wasn’t a beekeeper … yet he had a large and far-flung “hive” of family and friends. His address book (translated to an Excel spreadsheet over the years) was massive. My siblings and I spent hours on the phone reaching out and sharing the news of his passing. In the process we shared laughs, tears and a reconnection with people we hadn’t talk to in years. It was healing just to have those conversations, even while we knew we were sharing sad news.
Because Dad died during the pandemic, gathering was limited to family and the closest friends, with a private funeral Mass and no calling hours. Still, we felt so very grateful we at least could gather in church to send Dad on his way. His faith was strong; not having a funeral would have been unimaginable.
So many thousands of others this past year weren’t so fortunate. The unimaginable became the everyday. So many missed funerals, cancelled weddings, newborns with no grandparents to visit … so much loss of all kinds. Lost jobs, lost incomes, lost friendships, lost beliefs, lost hopes … in too many cases even lost faith as the things we used to believe were bedrock began to crack into pieces.
Collectively, we had no way to tell the bees.
For many it looks entirely different now … even if nothing really changed on the surface. For me, it’s a greater clarity of what’s important in my life, and what I can (should) gracefully and gratefully let go. It’s the gathering of the tribe, when we reconnect back around a central hive and share our stories. It’s the moments around a fire pit, the shared meals, seeing the band play live again.
Just beginning to tell my stories again, I’m exploring my feelings and realizations — even though I don’t have it all figured out. For me, writing is how I get there. Putting the foggy gray feelings into black and white forces me to makes at least some sense of it all.
I’m not the same person I was in the winter of 2020. Yeah, I miss her. She was a lot of fun, relaxed, happy, productive. Still, I’m learning to embrace who I’ve become. She’s still fun, with an extra portion of grace and strength and some eyes-wide-open disbelief at some of the things I never noticed before.
I need to speak my truth of the loss and fear and darkness of last year, so my hive begins to understand.
I need to tell the bees.
Carol Pearson is the founder of the 10 Little Rules book series, and the author of 10 Little Rules for a Blissy Life, available at www.10littlerules.com, on Amazon, on Etsy, and at select retail stores. Follow 10 Little Rules on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and LinkedIn.