People often talk of the journey through grief. (I myself have iterated this adage.) During the past few months as my grief is waning, I’ve come to see that there is no separate journey through grief. There is only the journey through life. Grief accompanies us part of the way, maybe even most of the way, though not always with the intensity of new grief. Grief, in fact, has driven me through the steep rocky path of my life during the past few years, first a numbing grief at my life mate/soul mate’s dying, and then later, a soul-shattering grief at his death.
Like many bereft, I was not always sure I want to continue living, but I wasn’t particularly ready for death, either, so I did the only thing I could do — continue my journey, taking each day as it comes, trying new things, finding comfort in knowing that nothing lasts forever.
By sheer waves of happenstance, I’ve been temporarily beached in a residential area that borders the desert. (If you have been following the Second Wind online collaboration called Rubicon Ranch, you will be familiar with this community, though so far, unlike my hapless alter ego, widow Melanie Gray, I have not yet stumbled upon body parts out in the desert.)
Someday, those waves of chance might sweep me into other climes, so I am making sure I use this opportunity to get to know my desert self. There are few frills in the desert, no vibrant colors or showy flowers (though brilliant cactus flowers do bloom in the spring). There are just stark hills, creosote bushes, hard-packed sandy soil. The bleak landscape suited me when I first came here, sodden with tears and steeped in pain, and it suits me still. There is peace in starkness — no particular sight rivets my attention, no exotic sounds or aromas tantalize my senses. There’s just me, the hills, the air I breathe.
Other waves of happenstance landed me in a yoga class. The teacher has a different approach, focusing not on the forms so much as breathing and being. That, too suits me.
I’ve added a few of those exercises to my morning perambulations. I stand out in the desert, away from the things of humankind, open my arms and breathe in the desert. In that moment, I am happy. There are no shadows of grief, no sad memories or niggling fears. There’s just me, believing I am where I am supposed to be.
September 20, 2012 at 2:55 am
Powerful as always. I really enjoy reading your writing. Your style and structure are so fluid, it’s almost like poetry. Eventually, when I get a moment, I must read one of your books. I have to ask, when you do blog posts, do you find you can write and post them in one sitting, or are you compelled to do a few drafts?
September 20, 2012 at 3:36 pm
I generally write them in one sitting (takes a couple of hours for some odd reason). I often stop to check emails or some such to clear my head before I do a final edit.
September 20, 2012 at 6:11 am
I’m so glad that you are moving forward and starting to enjoy parts of life again. You have much to offer the world through your writing and I always look forward to reading your “stuff”. Keep going forward it is the way life is supposed to be lived. Not that looking back isn’t important but it should be a look, not living there.
September 20, 2012 at 3:32 pm
Thank you, Patty. Little by little, I am going forward. Someday, maybe I will be able to live fully again.
September 20, 2012 at 8:48 am
I think the statement “we must journey through grief” is accurate in the sense you cannot go around it, you must trudge through the mess of it. Life is a journey that encompasses an array of experiences and grief is one that no one is exempt from at some level or another. Nice post…
September 20, 2012 at 3:31 pm
Well, I certainly trudged through the mess, that’s for sure. Still trudging, though now I can see it as part of the whole rather than a thing apart.
Thank you for stopping by, Michael.
September 20, 2012 at 3:59 pm
INteresting. A friend grieving for her son (suicide) is visiting. We hiked, we went to a yoga class, we talk and she tells me about a grief group she attends once a week. She is finding her way and she is planning a book about her journey. Maybe some day you two will meet.
September 20, 2012 at 7:48 pm
The only thing as earth shattering as losing a mate is losing a child. My brother’s death brought on my mother’s. And the only thing worse than losing a child to to lose one by suicide. My heart goes out to your friend.
September 21, 2012 at 2:46 am
“And the only thing worse than losing a child to to lose one by suicide”; or at the hand of another. You live with the fact that, while incarcerated, his Mother can still see him and hear his precious voice. . .
September 28, 2012 at 4:25 am
Oh my dear Pat. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa! I didn’t realize that there was STILL so much bitterness in my heart until re-reading this last post I made. Please forgive the comparison I so miserably tried to make between the pain that each of us feels. There is no comparison. We all feel pain, have losses, and deal the best we can, in the time given to us on this place called earth. . .
Just ‘shows to go ya’ – when you think you’ve got a handle on one thing in life; something else can sneak in and ‘steal your peace’ from you. Then before you know what’s going on if like me (and perish that thought), you open mouth, insert foot, and say something so incredibly stupid. (Both fit far to comfortaby I’ve ashamedly found.) Please forgive the above post and the goofy gal who wrote it. (And the computer who is fighting me every step of the way from sending it this AM)
September 28, 2012 at 11:42 am
There’s nothing to forgive. You’re entitled to your bitterness, but your comment didn’t seem bitter to me, only heartbroken.
September 27, 2012 at 8:20 am
Interesting perspective. I don’t necessarily agree that grief is not it’s own journey. I guess I look at it as a by-way, that runs parallel to the highway of life. There was a period of time when I put the miles in, but had no awareness of, or care regarding, the bigger, busier highway of life, I was too focused on navigating this by-way of grief – but the miles passed just the same. At some times that by-way ran closer to the highway, I could see it, it was *right* there, but I couldn’t find the on-ramp. Other times, the by-way seemed separated from the highway by a thick mass of trees and strange and unusual sights – some I had to get out of the vehicle for a while and explore, take notes, and carry on.
So, while I see where you are coming from, and I certainly appreciate your perspective, I guess the song remains the same: our grief is always an individual affair, and we will all heal from it in our own time, in our own way. Thanks again for sharing your insight with us, I enjoyed reading your post, and look forward to reading more