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.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Grief Is Wild







It’s the Wilderness. Or maybe it’s just Chaos.

We like the idea of the wilderness because it’s unknown, and because what we know isn’t enough to calm our monkey minds. We need to believe there is more.

Grief is a wild place. Uncontrolled. Fearsome. Deadly.

Or it seems to be such. We like the unfathomable. We like having mystery around that we will never understand, as long as it’s friendly. Some of us also like to take risks and be where we can die if we make a mistake, either from wild animals with larger teeth, or from losing our balance and tumbling off the side of a mountain. We like being surrounded by something larger than ourselves, something wonderful and grand because grief has compressed our world so small.

Grief is a beast.

If we understood grief, if we thought that we knew what was going on, we might conclude that life has ended with the death of our loved one. Everything is over. Turn out the lights. Say good night.

But life doesn’t end. It’s not as destroyed as it feels. It goes on despite our wishes.

And the wilderness is not a void. It’s alive. It’s where it wants to be, in that it is being what it is. It makes no pretense of being anything other than what it is. At times it is raw and uncomfortable, and we can like it or not. It doesn’t care. The wilderness is also continually changing, adjusting to new situations. Chunks of the mountain fall off. Forests burn down to the ground. Lakes fill in and become meadows. There is sorrow because of what is gone, yet there’s also joy for the new life being born. The wilderness is, and is becoming more its self.

When grief started, I thought I was hiking through a dark forest with a set timeline for when I would arrive at my destination. That didn’t happen. Now I just hike and interact with the landscape as it goes by, and I try to help others I meet along the way who are walking a similar path. Most of the sharp pains of grief have ended, and I’m learning to live with the rest.

Grief isn’t a well-marked trail. It’s a mystery.

As we go higher up on the mountain, the vistas grow broader. Every day I want to adjust to the day's changes. I want to do what I feel like doing, not how others expect me to act. I want to adjust to the changes. In grief we are sometimes raw and chaotic. Other people need to see this part of us, too, not just our happy side.

We are called to be who we are, with all of our strengths, dreams, and broken places.


Even if we don’t live in nature’s wilderness, there is a wilderness that exists within us, waiting to be explored. Parts of our wilderness are scary. Yet if we hold on, the trail will lead to places in our lives where we will be amazed by grace, and moved by the mercy and compassion of others.

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