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Landscapes of Grief
A Pilgrim's Journey
With Photographs by Rebecca Webb Wilson
There are numerous landscapes because our experiences of grief are so spectacularly varied. The death of a spouse after a decades-long marriage is very different from the wreckage of divorce. The feelings associated with the death of an aged parent will not be anything like the anguish of watching a child self-destruct. Being laid off, moving to a new and unfamiliar place, the ruin of a cherished dream, contracting a serious illness—all of these common life occurrences involve loss. Grief, whatever its form, is the normal response to those losses.
None of us will escape our own painful journeys through these landscapes. We may try to take detours around them or be carried over them or hide from them using our favorite avoidance strategies. But loss and the ensuing collapse of our assumptions about how our lives would or should be is a universal human experience.
Moreover, we don’t really “get over” our losses. They stay with us, shaping the contours of our lives. If sufficiently severe, they can distort our souls. But if we are brave enough to explore the territory—to undertake the pilgrim’s journey through grief’s landscapes—the sharp, ragged edges will gradually soften. At our journey’s end we will find a more immediate sense of gratitude, an expanded capacity for love, and even, at moments when we least expect it, the quickening of something akin to joy.
Each day, for the next 28 days, you will find a brief reflection on some aspect of grief. Some will speak to your experience and others, no doubt, will not. They are intended, not to make the pain go away (nothing can do that), but to provide you with tools and markers along the way. There are no rules for grieving the “right” way. There are no ten easy steps. But curiosity about your own experience will help. As will patience with your restless heart. And generous doses of self-forgiveness. Keep breathing. Don’t panic. Day by day you will be moving, whether it feels like it or not, toward the healing of your broken heart.
Fatigue and Rest
Communion of Grievers