The greatest thing you’ll ever learn, is just to love, and be loved in return
-Moulin Rouge

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks sitting by my Grandma’s bedside in hospital. She’s rapidly declining, and it’s likely that she won’t make it through this latest bout of pneumonia. It’s serious enough for my whole family to fly in from different parts of the world to see her. I had imagined that I would be a wreck when the time came for this. She’s 95, and has been pretty fragile for a couple of years, so it’s not like it’s unexpected. I had imagined that I would be inconsolable at the thought of losing the most inspirational woman in my life.

Turns out that sitting in hospital with a loved one as they ease their way out of the world is simultaneously heartbreaking and reaffirming. As I watch my Grandma gradually letting go, I have spent the past few days in deep contemplation, filled with gratitude for having the experience of being loved by her. I have been strengthened as I reflect on how she has modeled grace and compassion, coupled with a good dose of badass, empowered, and independent womanhood. I have recognized that my need to hold on to her may be in conflict with her need to go. Yet, I can see her fighting to stay and also yearning to join our ancestors. It’s a surreal experience to witness. I have told her in my heart that I am ready if she is. She knows that she is loved and so do I.

By the time you read this, it will all be over. As an existential-humanistic orientated practitioner, I have to wonder, what is the meaning in all of this, and how will this impact my way of being-in-the-world, and with others?

The feeling of being fully seen and loved anyway, regardless of our imperfections, trusting that the other holds hope and compassion for all of who you are, is a rare gift. I have carried this gift from my Grandma in every fiber of my being since the moment I began to exist. Her love is fierce and loyal, yet full of grace and compassion. I can see how this has shaped who I am, and why it feels so important to me to be of service to others in some way.

I realized, too, that my feeling of being fully seen is also present when I’m with horses, and that it is precisely this process that our clients and participants step into in the interactions we hold space for. It is the herd’s ability to love, and be loved that is healing and transformational. Without agenda, without expectations, without judgment; simply sharing space with love.

So as I sit in contemplative awe and gratitude with my Grandma, I hope you can all experience sharing space with your equine partners and those you love, so that you too can love, and be loved in return.

Warm wishes to you all,
Dr. Veronica Lac
Executive Director
The HERD Institute

Edited to add: Veronica’s grandma passed away on Friday, March 29.

In dedication to her, our first HERD Institute Conference theme will be entitled
Sharing Space with Love & Compassion
Save the date. July 10-12, 2020.

More information to come soon!