“My heart is broken. I’m lost in my pain.” These words are uttered everyday by those of us dealing with great loss. We find ourselves on THE LONG WINDING ROAD OF GRIEF. With NO END in Sight, we lose our way. One does NOT choose to enter this roadway, yet here you are. What can you expect out here? Are there any shortcuts for your heart to heal? You’re tripping over dangerous cliffs and rocks, or so it seems. Where is your North Star? Have you lost all sense of direction? Perhaps it’s mine to pause. Remember to breathe. Your endless questions and concerns must wait. Strength will return if only in tiny bits. Know THERE IS NO WRONG WAY TO GRIEVE. Travel as you choose. Don’t judge yourself. These feelings are all part of the trek. Grief is long lasting, BUT it can by lightened. It is NOT about the passage of time. It is about what YOU DO during this time that creates healing. The future is forever changed. Learning survival skills will begin your passage out. Perhaps today is the day to make camp… here at the side of the road. You are safe.

Consider my thoughts. They may soften the turf you’re on now. I, too, was lost on the road of desperation. Months of anguish had taken its toll. I had suffered the loss of a beloved family member. Life was forever changed. How would I continue onward? My former husband, my dear friend, the devoted father of my daughter, died. Continuing on as a single parent terrified me. My adult child, Ashley, is a special needs person. Together, we had been a great team supporting her. Now it was my job to do solo. She is very loving, independent and successful. She also needs considerable support. I faced that new reality in darkness. Life had all new demands. The process of your releasing a beloved is TOUGH. It hurts your heart. It hurts your routines. It changes everything. In our family, two of us had to do it… at the same time… in the same home. Yet I felt so alone.

Finding the right baby steps to take was harsh. Life demands the steps. Falling down is every day fare. Getting up is even harder. “Help. Give me a sign… please,” I asked of the Universe. Little did I know that a black scruffy dog and loud honking geese were my answer, my sign. Being forced to literally put on sneakers for actual steps out my driveway changed my journey. The Long Winding Road appeared to hold new vision inly a short distance from my front door. And so I share my tale. My beloved best friend terrier, Benny, stood barking through our glass storm door. He insisted we go outdoors! He loved me unconditionally. Yet he didn’t understand where his fun-filled Mom had gone. Grief had robbed him too. Our days outside together had dwindled. Benny demanded a change. Bark, Bark, Bark!

I looked for my old gray sneakers. I grabbed his leash. I dragged myself outside. My heart was not into walking; but I had to stop his noise. It was a beautiful evening… I made myself notice. It was a short distance to our city park. Benny pulled toward loud honking sounds… Lakeside chatter had out attention! Canada geese were shouting back and forth at each other from the water. It was confusing yet magical. Benny looked at me as if to ask, “What are they saving Mom?” Each goose demanded to be heard, cackling an opinion louder than the next. We watched and waited. Determined to understand their talk, we remained still on the shore.

Many moments later, they arose above the waterline in a perfect ‘V Formation’. Lifting above the sunset each followed their partners as agreed. They had been making plan! It had taken a while for the gaggle to reach agreement. Watching them fly away in perfect unison showed its perfection! I knew at that moment… I, too, had to make a plan! If I was going to survive this loss, it would take some direction. We walked to a nearby bench where I sat down to think. “I will write a book. Words soothe me. I can help myself and others who read it.” I had said it aloud! That evening I’d found my teachers. I’ll watch. I’ll learn from them; one day I will fly again. We walked home a bit lighter. My burden of grief had shifted. I took back some control after feeling out of control for so long. I woke up the following morning knowing I had words to write. I felt grounded. I wrote my very first poem. A collection of twelve would follow, one for each month of ‘Year One’ of Loss. With new eyes, I watched Canada geese. Cooperation is their motto. Love and loyalty to each other guides every choice they make. One may hear honking as a skein passes overhead. Those sounds are geese cheering! They request position changes or signal danger. Older, weaker, and younger geese fly in the rear, cheer leading the group onward. Look to the skies next time with this understanding of what these amazing birds are doing!

When a member is unable to continue flying, two strong geese leave the formation. They lead their wounded friend to food, shelter and water. They remain with the goose until it heals or dies before joining another formation. An injured goose does not suffer or die alone. A goose can always count on its village. In strength or weakness, a Canada goose is honored for its entire lifetime. My heart opened as I learned their ways. I chose to join a Hospice Grief Support group. It nurtured me. I wrote more poetry. Nature’s incredible beauty here in Colorado, allowed me to create respite from the simple rising of the sun each morning. The setting sun and rising moon showed me a new way to see my loss. I replaced LOSS with LOVE; my experience altered. I was healing. Days of crushing pain returned. I felt blindsided. I crumbled again. I felt it all over once more… There is no choice but ‘feel to heal’, so I did. I folded myself up and loved myself through it. At this time, I knew I’d be back. So I wrote. I walked the trails with Benny and I healed. My outlook changed with every passerby we encountered. The jagged brutal bolder of grief I knew had soften. Now a soft sandy stone, at last it became a s oft Pearl to carry in my pocket. Grief ebbs and flows. My heart has its glow from my pocket below… I’ll carry my pearl forever.

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