Monday, January 24, 2011

The Wilderness of Grief

I was the kid who always asked "why?"  I was never embarrassed since my grandparents raised me to believe there were no stupid questions, only stupid people who were afraid to ask questions.  I'm sure I drove folks crazy but my motivation was pure; I needed to learn and understand and make it make sense in my head and my heart.  I wasn't trying to be difficult or argumentative or confrontational, although I certainly can be all of those things when I want to be.  But not as a child.  Not when the eight year old me asked Sister George why I couldn't be an altar boy.  Not when I was quickly sent to the Mother Superior's office and I again asked why a girl couldn't be an altar boy.  Or a PRIEST. Not when I couldn't understand why I was in trouble for wanting to understand.  I had so many questions and never enough answers.

Last week presented several events that painfully reminded me of the losses in my life over the past several years.  Losses that didn't just include the deaths of people dear to me, although there were a few of those, too, but other types of loss and death: the loss of self, trust, balance, and purpose.  The death of dreams, present and future.  The loss of faith and the subsequent (sometimes) successful search to find faith once again.  So many losses and deaths, big and small, and with them come the ever present questions: Why?  How?  What if...? I'm a grief counselor and I know that questions come with the territory.  If I had a nickel for every time I encouraged people to ask their questions until they either got an answer or were able to let the question go, I'd have a lot of nickels.  When it comes to self, well, that's a whole other story.  

One of my favorite people in the world is Alan Wolfelt.  Alan's teachings entered my life at the most critical of times, JUST in time, and forever changed me. It was Alan who introduced me to the concept of the wilderness of grief, and I am indeed once again in that wilderness.  Shattered and alone, even in a room full of friends. Trying to understand and make sense of things. Asking questions in the night. Asking questions at ALL times of the day and night.  Asking questions that have no answers, but asking them just the same.  Some things never change, but mixed in with the week's challenges, I received a gift.  I was able to spend some time with a good friend of mine, someone whose opinions I value even if I don't always agree.  Through the talking and the tears, she helped me see who I am now. Now, after all the crap.  Now, after the betrayals and lies and pettiness and fear.  She helped me find the answer to "who am I now?" and I'll give you the short version: I am the exact same person I have always been.  My circumstances have changed but my core has not.  I sport a few more bumps and bruises, a few more scars, a few more life lessons thrown my way, but I HAVE NOT CHANGED.  My truth, my integrity, and my soul's essence remain the same.  I think I always knew that but she gave me a much needed reminder, and I am so very grateful. I'm still asking questions and I guess I always will, but now there's one less question on my list.  Remember, NO ONE CAN TAKE YOU FROM YOU.   And don't stop asking questions, ever. You might just find the answers you're looking for.   I stand in that truth.

"Only Today" - ATC created in memory of my Aunt Barb.

1 comment:

  1. beautiful - this I'm going to share with my girls


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