Every Wednesday

Every Wednesday I will post a reflection on grief as I continue to explore its landscape and listen to you. In the sharing of our stories with each other, we find encouragement and build a community of support.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Breadcrumbs

As you start to walk on the way, the way appears. Rumi

We don’t get through grief by sitting on our butt. Well, okay, sitting is fine for a time, but grief is not going to leave on its own. We have to pay attention to what it is doing inside us. We have to walk with grief and listen to what it is saying.

When death hits, a list starts in our heads of everything we’ve lost, and the list becomes lengthy.

The journey of grief involves accepting what has happened. This doesn’t mean that we agree or like what’s happened. And it involves letting go of a bunch of our dreams and expectations. This is anguishing because we don’t want to risk losing anything that we have left, and it tears us apart to think of doing so. We also have to let go of death if we are to feel the warmth of life again, and turn back towards life. So where does that leave us?

Letting go in grief is like Inanna’s descent into the Underworld in Mesopotamian mythology to find her sister. In order to pass through each gate on her way down, Inanna has to give up something valuable she possesses. At the end, even her clothes are taken away and she is naked, with no power or prestige left. It is only then, when she has nowhere to turn, that she looks inside herself and finds the strength to continue.

When we have given up everything, when the light has faded and darkness has replaced its last glimmer with loneliness and despair, and we take that first step into the unknown, it is then that we notice a trail of breadcrumbs left by those who have traveled through grief’s wilderness before us. 

We could not see this trail until we faced our fears, gathered our courage, and took that step, trusting the wilderness before us. The breadcrumbs and trail ducks lead us through the Forest of Uncertainty and over the Mountains of Dark Silence to a place we’ve never been.

What are these breadcrumbs? 

They are the words of others who have dipped their pens into their hearts and written the raw truth of their grief. They are the voices of those who stop to talk with us on the street and share words of support. They are the open arms of people who hug us long and hard. They are those who show up on our doorstep with freshly baked bread and listen to us share the wilderness of our hearts.

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