Every Wednesday

Every Wednesday I will post something about grief. Sometimes it will be a reflection on an aspect of grief’s landscape. Now and then I will share from my own journey of grief, because in the sharing of our stories we find strength and build a community of people that support one another.

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

John Muir, naturalist

John Muir’s birthday is today. 

His wife, Louie, died eight years before he did, and he was nine years older, so her death was unexpected, as if death is ever expected.

Muir was in Arizona when Louie discovered she had lung cancer. He had traveled there to take care of his daughter Helen who developed breathing problems in the moist air of the Bay Area of California. They found a place in the desert where the air was dry. 

When Muir found out Louie was ill, he came home, comforted her the best he could, and watched her die. He tried to cope by doing things around the house but wasn’t doing well. When Teddy Roosevelt suggested he get back into nature, Muir returned to Arizona, and for the next year he wandered around the desert and slowly recovered.

In a landscape that at first looked as if there wasn’t much living, Muir discovered how much life was able to survive the harsh conditions. Nature healed Muir when humans could not. 

Yet I wonder if he was still the same person? I know that I have changed in significant ways because of grief, some that are good, and a few that aren’t.

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