With the death toll mounting -click the link to read an article and see a haunting video about the Valley Fire-and the animals still being found alive amidst the rubble, I have moments of feeling completely overwhelmed by the stories I am hearing and reading. I wrote a story picked up by Elephant Journal, in an effort to move through some personal PTSD that surfaced from the event.

It wasn’t quite enough to truly move the emotion.

As a high sensitive, it can often be too much to sit with the huge influx of outside energies, both in our personal lives and the collective. As sensitives, we are easily stimulated and overwhelmed. I used to shame myself around this. Much later in life, I understood that it was also my gift as a therapist. We learned a lot about this in the Eponaquest program with Linda Kohanov and interestingly-and not surprisingly-horses too are highly sensitive creatures. It’s how they survive…it’s likely how most of us high sensitives survived. I’m sure your beginning to see the connection here…


I knew that I had to find a way to move the pent up feelings from the last couple of weeks. In Epona, we call this dance Emotional Agility. It’s a 4-part process…a shift of energy…Here are the steps: 1. Feel the emotion in the purest form. 2. Get the message behind the emotion 3. Change something in response to the message 4. Go back to grazing.

I was invited to participate in two local benefits that were being held for victims of the fire. My massage therapist is someone who produces events and we were talking about our feelings while I was on her table and I knew I was not alone in feeling overwhelmed. I shared with her an idea that I’d had the night before. Synchronicity? Of course…that’s how it works

I offered to create a Box of Community Sorrow that she could bring to both events and she jumped on the idea.

I only had 24 hours between our conversation and the event to create the piece, so I had to keep it pretty simple. I started with a meditation, feeling into into what this box might be. What became important in the end was setting the intention that this would be a sacred container, even if it started as a cardboard box.

Tuesday evening I brought The Box of Community Sorrow to the first event, a Sound Healing. It brought my heart a deep sense of peace to witness strangers writing their feelings on slips of papers, tears streaming down their faces and placing their sorrow in a sacred container that would hold them until they were released with cleansing fire-the metaphor is purposeful-in a sacred ceremony.

I offer you the Box of Sorrow expressive arts and healing process today, in the hopes that it can support you or someone you know, in moving through your feelings of sorrow and grief. You can use this for personal use or to create ritual in community, whenever there is a need to let go and/or grieve.

Here’s how you can create your own Box of Sorrow. 

1. I printed a copy of a journal page I had done the day the fire broke out. I new this would be part of it somehow. My printer died after the first page came off and it put a wrench in my initial idea…or so I thought….

2. I decided to shift to paint. I pulled the first colors that called to me off the shelf. Red and Black. I mixed them together and used a wide brush and began covering the box.

3. The act of painting the box felt like a ritual, almost a cleansing if you will. Applying the paint to the brown paper felt like covering it with a shroud.

4. I cut a hole in the top of the box where people could insert their words of sorrow.

5. I placed the journal sketch on top of the slot and cut through to reveal the slot.IMG_6198







6. I searched the internet for words of Sorrow and found this beautiful poem by Denise Levertov. Originally I was going to type it out with instructions, but since my printer died an unnatural death, I had no choice but to write it…which was ultimately perfect and quite healing in itself.

To Speak
To speak of sorrow
works upon it
                    moves it from its
crouched place barring
the way to and from the soul’s hall —

out in the light it
shows clear, whether
shrunken or known as
a giant wrath —
at least, where before

its great shadow joined
the walls and roof and seemed
to uphold the hall like a beam.

7. I wrote instructions on the top for how the Box of Sorrow would be used: It would NEVER be opened and it would be burned in a sacred fire one day after the event, by my massage therapist. 

8. The sides were sealed with H-Vac tape








9. I created an envelope from a plastic baggie making self-contained and easy to bring to different venues. I used extra large index cards offering people lots of room to write their feelings.








10. I supplied two blue colored markers, that would travel with The Box-blue for water…increasing calm…inner peace…emotional depth…speaking truth through self-expression.







If you feel compelled to make a donation today, read this story about the Middletown Veterinary Clinic. They’ve been working around the clock, donating their time and money to help the 4-leggeds and their humans recover. Here’s their FB page and their GOFUNDME page.

The community outpouring of love and support has been amazing, but it’s far from over…these folks will be starting from the ashes….

With love and friendship we will rise...

Thanks for reading…

xo Sheri

6 Responses

  1. Sheri, what a loving and giving thing to do for those people. What a wonderful way for you to divide and conquer your own upset emotions.

    1. Thank you Sue. Yes, as you know as one of the graduates of the Creative Awakenings Training Program and now a coach facilitator, it is a co-creative process. As we give…we also receive.

  2. What a lovely reflection of the generosity of your spirit. Those traumatized directly by the fire are in the beginning stages of a long, transformative journey. Giving them a community forum to acknowledge and contain their individual and collective grief is the best gift you could have manifested.

    30-years ago my family and community endured an 18,000-acre fire (small by today’standards), but plenty dramatic to leave us and our community riddled with PTSD. There’s little more grounding than sharing ritual during the early phases of recovery.

    1. Pat, I am just seeing your comment. I am glad the post touched your heart. I understand the PTSD and can only imagine what you went through. Fire leaves not only a scar on the land, but also in the hearts of those it touches. Thank you so much for sharing your story with me.

  3. OMG this is deep healing. It is such an inspired idea. Long ago, I was fortunate enough to attend a writing workshop with Denise Levertov, and she was absolutely incredible in person. That weekend was not only one of the highlights of my writing life, but my soul life as well. I am sure she was a high sensitive as, as am i. I totally understand the shame thing. One must learn and employ strategies to mitigate the shame, depression, confusion–and appreciate it as a gift.

    1. Thank you so much Carol! I am just seeing your comment for the first time today. How fortunate you were to be able to attend a workshop with her! I had never heard of her until I searched for a poem. This piece spoke to deeply to my heart in that moment. Thank you for taking time to comment and share your thoughts.

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