I met a grief-teacher this week.
Like us, she has lost a child and is making her painful way through that maze of emotion and the struggle to make meaning. Much of our conversation was familiar to my own heart and similar to my conversations with other broken hearted parents. But she shared an amazing insight that has opened my eyes yet again. It is a beautiful thing to me when people whose sadness is all consuming reveal the particular healing wisdom their loss has taught them.
She described herself as an athlete - someone for whom strenuous physical activity has always been invigorating and essential to her daily life. But that now after such a disintegrating loss, she has been “slowed to a stroll”. Her energy is so depleted that strolling is all she can manage. Still, it is essential, so she takes long slow walks in parks and in quiet neighborhoods - surrounded by the reassurance of the natural world. She said that one day it occurred to her that she felt like she was 80 years old ! So, she decided to volunteer her time at a nearby retirement home to walk with people who are 80 years old and need a companion. Now she strolls with people who need simple exercise and also a supportive friend to go with them.
The beauty of that gift . . . born out of broken hearted need . . . is a doorway, a teaching that grabs my heart and makes it stop to listen.