Petrichor: What The Smell Of Rain Teaches About Grief

Grief rituals allow emotional storms to pass [Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash]

The word petrichor is as beautiful as nature itself. It combines the Greek petra (stone) and īchōr, which in Greek mythology is the “ethereal fluid that makes the blood of Gods immortal.” Petrichor describes the sweet scent of freshly fallen rain, a smell somehow grounding and expansive.

As clouds gather before a storm, there’s tension in the sky and tension in our bones, as if we’re intuitively hardwired to sense an incoming downpour. After a storm, the air changes. The clouds clear. Petrichor fills the air, and we’re hardwired to enjoy the sweet scent of relief.

This natural phenomenon can be compared to emotions. It’s intuitive to use metaphors of weather to describe how we feel. That’s because we are nature, and cycles of emotion mimic the cycles of Mother nature. But so often, the thinking mind does all it can to prevent storms. The thinking mind is averse to clouds, and rainfall.

But with no rainfall, there’s no petrichor, no sweet scent of relief reassuring us storms are okay, that they’re necessary, that rain sows the harvest for tomorrow’s growth, that grief is part of nature, too.