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A map for grief

Map – “a symbolic depiction highlighting relationships between elements….”

Permission – “from the verb permittere “allow”

In the past week we have witnessed public acts of rage and terrorism resulting in loss of life and countless injuries. Our hearts go out to these families and of course to many others who suffered their losses more privately. The back stories in loss - public or private - yesterday, today, or tomorrow – are told by those left behind - the families and friends who must begin their mournful journeys. We wish we could help.

Everyone grieves differently and, regardless of how loss finds you, that first year or two or three often feel like the ones where all bets are off.

We’re not sure we can stand it and we sure don’t know what we’re supposed to do. We wander because we have no direction. But I’ve come to believe that, eventually, there are truths that will help us push through that fog to the other side of our lives, while we ask if it’s ever going to get better.

I’m always reading other’s thoughts on loss and I’ve talked to a lot of people, even before the publication of “Hey, God? Yes, Charles.” and certainly many more since. At the same time, I realize that this is no huge sampling of everybody in the world of loss. So what I present is not scientific, probably not even all that original, and certainly only a smidgen of what might be helpful. But coupled with my own experience, two conclusions have bubbled up that feel real and test well for me into my ninth year of widowhood.

We don’t get over. We get past.

We don’t move on. We move forward.

These fourteen words actually say a lot. They have been true for me. If you’re to the point where they can be true for you, I hope you see these as distinctions with a difference and perhaps a destination.

If you’re not there yet, maybe these thoughts can begin to light the way.

Either way, I hope you see the words for what they are – a map, and, when you’re ready, permission.

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