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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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Carry Home

Book: The Carry Home, Gary Ferguson

When his wife Jane dies in a canoeing accident in Canada, Gary Ferguson suffers a personal rift with his beloved wilderness, feeling betrayed. As he deals with his wife’s death, he also sets out to reclaim his relationship with nature and restart his life.

This is the story of two people who grew up in the Midwest loving to be outdoors, found each other, and spent two decades together hiking, canoeing, and working in nature throughout Montana and Wyoming, including helping troubled teenagers find themselves. Ferguson promised his wife that if she died, he would scatter her ashes in wilderness places that were special to them. We follow Ferguson as he grieves in his empty home in Red Lodge, Montana, and on the trail to five destinations.

Any book that combines nature and grief is going to get my attention because I went to Yosemite to deal with my grief after my wife died. I wrote about this in my book Mountains of Light. Gary and I have also spoken a couple of times in Red Lodge.

Seeing the devastation being done to the wilderness by commercial interests, Jane and Gary dedicated themselves to educating people about the need to preserve our wild places and their creatures, especially the wolves, and this concern permeates the book. What allows people to abuse nature, Ferguson says, is that we have lost the stories that connect us to the land and to each other. Too many of us no longer see the beauty of the outdoors, or feel part of a caring community. In our rush to make money, we’ve lost our sense of mystery and wonder.

Touching are the descriptions of Ferguson’s feelings when scattering Jane’s ashes, and the coincidences with loons and bobcats that make him wonder if Jane was communicating with him. He realizes that if he is going to have a chance of embracing Jane in the present, he will have to let go of her in the past.


This is a moving story about grief and nature’s ability to restore us to life.

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