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Walking the Rope Bridge of Grief

Peggy Green - Thee Grief Specialist

by Peggy Green of Thee Grief Specialist

When my son died, I had no idea how I was going to survive, how I was going to make it through the day, let alone the next month or years to come. I remember that pain and fear so vividly. It was horrible. I was moving through life as if I were a robot. I was numb yet still felt the deep sadness and anguish. 

At some point, I do not recall exactly when it happened, but I found that in the present I needed help so that I could have hope for the future. I did not know how. I left the how to my higher power. I just knew he would be the one to lead me through the process 

I compare my journey to that of traversing a rope bridge, one of those pedestrian bridges that hangs over a deep gorge, body of water or rushing river.  They are usually suspended hundreds of feet or more above the water below with piers  anchored into the hillside. There are no pillars to support the middle  and the arch of the bridge deepens with the weight of those walking upon it. They are constructed of either rope, planks, or cables. Some use the bare minimum materials with gaps at your feet and no protection on the handrails, exposing you to perils below. The bridge and those that walk over it are subject to wind, rain, hail, heat and cold. 

Although it is a precarious walk, the bridge is a crossing to neighboring villages that support one another with food, supplies and community. It is passage from one area to another that otherwise would not be accessible. 

I wanted to be on the other side of the deep valley of sadness and grief.  I was suspended in between my current reality and the reality of what could be. The rope bridge, constructed by others who had experienced the tragedy of child death, was my ticket to healing. It was important that I sought help to overcome the pain and stay positive. 

On one side of the bridge, I stood with my present circumstances of deep pain and on the other side I could see hope. I had the ashes of mourning and could see the beauty of the future. I believed my higher power is a healer, but I was stressed, frustrated and sad. I wanted to receive the oil of joy yet had difficulty imagining joy again. I wanted to overcome my fear and have hope for the future. I yearned to turn my pain into purpose. 

How did I do it when I was experiencing these diametrical emotions? The bridge seemed impassable. Fear started to take over when I thought about taking a step onto the bridge. There was uncertainty that I would make it. The prospect of falling existed with every step.  I could focus on the possibility of slipping on a weather worn plank,  or it  breaking without warning sending me to the depths of despair, helplessness, and depression. Or I could set my sight on the other side of the bridge where hope, joy and purpose awaited me. I chose the latter. 

I realized I could not get across the bridge, move forward, without taking the first step. Somehow, I had to navigate those perilous planks, the  unsure footing, the swaying side to side, the rise and fall of the bridge. I was placed at this crossroads without my permission. I knew that the joy I was robbed of would return. It was there – in the future. 

My grief journey does not end once on the other side. However, my pain will ease with time. When I saw myself in the middle of the bridge, I looked back and realized the desperation lessened and I experienced joy. I focused on the other side of the bridge which offered purpose and everything I did was taking me one step closer. It did not happen overnight. I learned patience with myself and waited expectantly for healing. I held out for hope. 

Every day I took a deep breath to move forward. I also trusted in myself and the necessity of the process. I leaned into others who had gone through child loss before me and lived to tell about it. They navigated the rope bridge of grief and healing, encouraging me to do the same. 

Now, I urge to overcome your fear of falling and take your first step. The worst has already happened. The only way is up.