One day I was walking along, minding my own business when I was knocked over the edge of a cliff, down into a deep ravine. When I finally came to after the fall I discovered myself in a dark pit facing a rock wall. The only way out of the ravine, was to somehow climb the wall.
The fall to the bottom knocked the wind out of me, and getting up the energy to even consider stepping up to the wall took some time. When I was finally ready to reach my hand up and try to find a crevice I could use to hold onto as I placed my foot on a small outcropping on the rock I looked up and realized that the wall I faced had been climbed before.
Way up in the distance I saw another climber. Relief washed over me as proof that climbing out of the pit was possible materialized right before my eyes. Seeing the other person in the distance gave me a boost of confidence as I stepped up to begin my own climb. Working my way up the wall required every ounce of effort I possessed. Each placement of hand or foot required forethought and concentration. The experience of movement being difficult was forgien because walking is so natural whereas climbing was all new. I could no longer move forward in a straight line mindlessly, instead every inch of progress was measured and each hand hold or foot hold sought out. Traveling up was exhausting. The one thing that kept me going was knowing that someone else had gone before me, getting out of the pit via this wall could be done.
As I climbed I realized that each and every one of the places where I put my hands or feet had been touched before. No stone was new, no crevice newly discovered...they all felt traveled to me and there was a sense of comfort in knowing that I was one of many climbers on this ascent. This knowledge gave me the courage to keep climbing, even when I felt I could not go on. Those climbers above me made all the difference as I made my way up the wall and out of the darkness.
Many times I have been asked why I work with the widowed community. Often I am asked whether I think holding onto the experience of grief limits my ability to move forward in my own life. There is an overriding perception in our society that you can't get over your loss until you have removed the effects of that experience from you life.
What I believe is that climbing out of the pit of despair, fear, confusion, and paralysis caused by grief is a team effort. If those of us who have climbed out don't reach out to those who are at the bottom of the pit, who will lead the climb? Every effort to support another widowed person creates a hand hold or a foot hold on that rocky wall of widowhood. It is up to US, those who are climbing the wall or have reached the top, to leave a trail of hope for those who will follow us. We can create a network of support so large, that no one need grieve alone. We can provide the visual, physical proof that climbing out of the darkness is possible.
Together we can blaze a trail, together we can make a difference, together we can prove that life after loss is a beautiful opportunity to make the most of what lies ahead. Volunteer, donate, make a call to a widowed friend, join the community of facebook, leave a comment when a blog makes a difference in your life...each action in support of this community makes the climb a little easier for the next person down the wall. Every single effort counts.