The Journey Through Grief

Two people climb up a mountain at sunset. The climber higher up the mountain helps the other climber continue up.

Somewhere during my adventures in reading, I came across a line that spoke to me so strongly that I wrote it down, knowing that I would revisit it one day. Today is that day, and I want to share the line and a few of my thoughts!

Pico Iyer is a British-born essayist and novelist known for his travel writings. The quote is his: “We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next to find ourselves.”

While Mr. Iyer writes from a travel perspective, my connection with the quote comes from a completely different perspective. I understand the travel perspective, and travel certainly comes to mind, especially now that we are in the middle of the summer season. Thoughts of vacations stir feelings of rest and release from responsibilities to a degree, if just for a time. A change of scenery is a good thing; good for the body, mind, and spirit!

But the quote speaks to me of travel in a different sense, not of the vacation type, but the journey type. While a vacation requires a break from where you are for a little while, there’s always an ending and a return to what you have left for a time. While vacations are much needed, returning to the daily grind often leaves me longing for another one before too long.

On the other hand, a journey has a different feel to it. When I see myself on a journey, things are quite different. It feels different! My journeys may involve a change of scenery, but that’s not always necessary. My journeys always run parallel to everything else already going on in my life; it’s an ongoing part of me. My journeys have no time constraints, like my vacations. My journeys aren’t filled with the necessity to cram in as much as possible.

The adventure, for me, is in the wondering, pondering, and experiencing where I am at that moment; in being grateful for new insights, the welcome of those I meet along my way, and the life lessons which lead me to a greater capacity to love and laugh and live to the fullest. My journeys take me to places of contentment and peace in my spirit, always accompanied by adventure and companionship, if not physically, certainly, in the awareness that I am never alone on any journey.

Stopping to ponder Mr. Iyer’s quote, his words about travel are exactly what I feel in my journeys! I journey to lose myself AND to find myself! And what a wonderful experience it is!

Grief invites us to journey. Grief invites us to take a loss and do something with it, lose ourselves, and find ourselves. The journey which grief offers is difficult and messy. It can be done all alone or shared as you like with others. This grief journey has no set time frame, which confuses some folks. But grief encourages us to take all the time we need and be present right where we are in the journey.

The journey that grief offers is often challenging to begin, but it is always well worth it. Our grief journey invites us to discover who we are in light of our loss rather than trying to hold on to who we were before we experienced our loss. We have to be willing to let go in order to open ourselves to what’s ahead. A grief journey is not about forgetting anyone or a life shared with a loved one. If anything, it’s about remembering and embracing the loved one more, but in a way that honors and celebrates what was and looks forward to what is waiting to be discovered.

Here at Hospice and Community Care, we offer support for you on your journey. If we can be of any help, please give us a call.

Lee Ann Livingston
Spiritual Care Provider

The Hospice & Community Care team has a number of resources available for helping families walk through grief and loss.
Learn more about the support and services available to you.