Halloween is a time of the year when we make fun of our fears. The haunted house. Goblins and ghosts. Black cats and ravens. Death is in the air.

We don’t often contemplate our mortality until it’s foisted on us by tragedy. And even now it masquerades as children’s play rather than something we should take seriously.

Yet everywhere we look the signs are there. We take in the last burst of fall color with so much pleasure, partially because it heralds the coming of winter. Soon the trees will stand starkly bare against the sky.

These cycles are natural and can help us remember when we are faced with endings in our own lives. A friend once told me that she spent a whole day watching the leaves drop one by one from the tree in her backyard before filing for divorce.

We don’t usually let go as easily or gracefully as the trees do. And even they require external conditions to facilitate the change. Cold nights. Wind. It’s as much a process as our internal agonies. We don’t tend to like endings, except, of course, the happy ones, the fairy tale happily ever after.

It’s why we have such a hard time acknowledging the loss and misfortune of people in our lives, and sometimes even in our own lives. We put on the social mask, or stiff upper lip, and pretend to be okay when we’re actually miserable inside. It’s also what makes our suffering so lonely. We shy away from other people’s pain as much as our own.

The grieving process takes time and we must give it its due. Whether an actual death or an ending of some other kind, loss will change us in ways we can’t know until long after it’s over. Our tears and our pain, even our anger and rage, are all part of how we let go and come to terms with what has happened.

It is the nourishment we give to the seed of who we are becoming that is buried deep in the ground.

Death and birth. Two sides of the same coin of life. It is the currency of our existence.