Open Wounds

I needed to write tonight as I am quite shaken to my core over the loss of a friend and the path my friend and her girls find themselves on. There have been moments over the past 36 hours that I have not wanted to share what I am experiencing because it truly does not compare to the pain they are experiencing. However, I decided to write because this moment I am in, will be experienced by other widows at some point in their life. The wounds will reopen while we hold those dear to us up, in their darkest moment.
It is in these times that we must revisit the moments that gave us strength and hope. This is one of my most powerful moments:
In my second year of widowhood, I travelled to a very healing place for a short trip. It was Year Two that I found myself in the darkest moments I have ever experienced. I knew I had to do something before the darkness overtook me.
I met with a therapist each day I was there. I had a Native American bodyworker channeling his ancestors’ spirits as I received the most amazing healing work. I met with a spiritual and life guide who provided a safe space to help me move forward and who also gave me tools to do so. I ran the paths in silence and ate the food in silence. Only interacting with those I was working with in healing sessions. I had energy work done by a woman who was so powerful, I can’t even begin to describe the visions I saw nor express the love I felt surrounding me.
It was on one of the last days I was there that I decided to walk the labyrinth. It took me a little bit to take the first step and I remember running past it twice before I felt ready. The path to walk was not wide and forced me to step carefully. As I wound my way around towards the center, there were times where my step faltered, where my head became dizzy, where my breath left me. The steps before I reached center were blurred with my tears streaming down my face and I felt myself collapsing to the ground as my feet took me one more step closer to center.
It was there, in the center, through my tears, that I saw handwritten notes, rocks placed in cairns, feathers, shells, pieces of cloth, of all the people who had taken the path I had just taken. Tokens placed in the earth. Tokens of their love and their connection. In this Center, I let the tears flow, the cries find their voice. I did not have a stone to set atop a cairn, nor a note or picture to leave. Instead, my tears rolled off my cheeks and onto the ground, my cries permeated the air and the silence – these were my tokens left there in that sacred space.
As I took my first step from the center of the labyrinth, I felt this wave of energy flow into me and the dark recesses of my grieving spirit. I took another step and it became more and more visible in the air around me. Then, I took another step and heard chanting and felt hands on my shoulders and on my arms. I closed my eyes and as I did so, I saw people standing beside me, lining the path of the labyrinth as it wound around, their hands gently guiding me, holding me, resting on me, giving me their strength and the strength of all who walked before me.
My eyes were open to the energy of life, of Spirit, and the ancestors of that land. I was given a gift in those moments. A reminder that I am never alone and that even in the darkest of times, even when I am unable to see clearly through the grief and the tears, they are beside me. Not just the ancestors of that land but my ancestors and every person that has walked this path before me, everyone I have known who has left this plane of existence before me, and all of those who love me and support me on this side of the veil, and most especially the husband that left me too soon.
In my grief and in my darkness all I could see was a vast chasm, a walk I was taking alone. The tears and the cries and this space I found myself in, allowed me to see the connection through the veil of life and death. The connection and the love of friends and family that surrounded me in my greatest time of need (and still do) and the connection that can never be severed between the living and the dead.
It is this experience that I am reminded of, as I grieve for my friend and her girls and for her husband. This is not the first tragedy to strike since Doug’s death but it certainly is one of them that has shaken me to my core. I would not wish these first days, months, and years of grief on my own worst enemy. I want to save her from this experience, from the sadness, the hurt, the anger, the loss. I want to shield her girls and just skip them all ahead to the future when the grief is less tortuous and where the tears still exist but laughter is part of every day. Where life is lived fully, authentically, and honestly.  I want to gather her friend, who is also at the one-year mark of losing her husband and tell her that she is strong and her loss and this loss at such a difficult time – she is also held up by all those who have come before her, her ancestors, her husband, her community, her friends. It will get better. I promise it will get better. The hurt, the anger, the grief, will lessen the grip – the roller coaster will level out and you will learn the dips and valleys because grief will always be a part of you but it will change.
As I do not have this power yet, I will take my place in the labyrinth, one of the living who has walked the road they find themselves on, who walks a path of loss and grief, and hold them both and all those who come after me – as part of the oneness of us all.
Love lives. It will always live.


*I hope that anyone who reads this understands that demons lie within each of us. There are times where these demons take over and all hope is lost. It is in these times that I hope you will reach out and get help because no matter how dark things appear to be – there is always hope. If you are struggling right now, there are people to help you at any time of the day – please pick up the phone and reach out. The National Suicide Hotline is there to help you, to show you the Hope. Please call them: 1-800-273-8255.
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