Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear to my cry, hold not your peace at my tears.
For I am a sojourner with you, a wayfarer as all my forebears were. —Psalm 39:13-14
Several summers ago some friends and I visited the Grand Canyon. One of our group suggested we get up early to watch the sun rise and then hike to the bottom of the canyon in the cool of the day. According to his calculations we should be back by noon. We thought it a great idea and gathered at the Bright Angel trailhead at five the next morning. The sunrise predictably happened and we all took pictures as though we were witnessing something wondrous and unique. We were in high spirits.
After an hour on the steep, deeply pitted trail, however, we realized that “back by noon” was not even remotely possible. Even that early in the day it was really hot. Soon my knees were screaming, my heart pounding, and regular stops for trail mix and water weren’t helping. After another hour our laughter had ceased; we were each captive to our own private struggle to keep going. “This is turning out to be a lot harder than it looks,” I thought grimly.
Grief is like that hike—a lot more difficult than it looks. Several months after your loss, your heart may ache even more intensely than it did in the beginning. You think you should be better by now, but instead, you are worse. You wonder how long this ordeal is going to last and want nothing more than for it to be over. You wonder if you are losing it.
This is where faith comes in, even though yours may be shaky and you are finding it hard to trust that God hears you or cares. Faith is putting one foot in front of the other even though you think you can’t possibly take one more step.
Our little posse didn’t make it to the trail’s end. We turned back at the three-mile marker. By this time the sun was higher and hotter, and we were exhausted. When at last we arrived at the lodge where other friends were waiting, we were presented with souvenir magnets which read, “I hiked, dragged myself, complained, nearly passed out and barely made it out of THE CANYON.” We laughed, but I also found great assurance in those words. This hike is grueling, I realized, not just for me, but for everyone who undertakes it.
Wherever you are today, know that others have traveled this path and have lived through it. You will survive too, no matter how much you hurt today.
O God, help me to keep going and to trust that you are on this journey with me. Amen.
**This blog post was originally published on explorefaith.org: http://www.explorefaith.com/lifeissues/sorrow_and_grief/landscapes_of_grief/day_1_the_journey.php
University of Memphis Psychology Professor Dr. Bob Neimeyer and the Revs. Bill Kolb and Eyleen Farmer are collaborating to offer a new group for anyone who is living with a significant loss. This six-week group will begin on Wednesday, Jan. 18, at 6:30 p.m., immediately following the Koinonia meal. The last class will be Wednesday, Feb. 22. All those who attended Dr. Neimeyer’s Sunday morning Great Hall classes on Meaning and Loss (Nov. 27 and Dec. 4) no doubt came away with an appreciation of loss as a pathway to growth and meaning making as the road map for that path. Please join us in Calvary’s library for this safe, supportive, gentle community of people caring for themselves and each other. Because of the nature of this group, advance registration is requested. For more information or to register, contact Eyleen Farmer: email@example.com.
Once again, wonderfully stated pearls of wisdom! There may be designated steps to the grief process, but there's certainly not a definitive timeline . . . and one can definitely be caught of guard, years after a specific loss, by a sudden reminder / surge of emotion! And it is, indeed, comforting to know others have been on similar journeys . . . and we are never, ever alone.
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