Climbing the Mountain of Grief
by Erin Prewitt on March 24th, 2015

Grief is a funny thing, I have found out.  There are so many different phases and so many different ways to move through it.  Some move at a fast pace, some need to go a bit slower, and others mix it up.  I would identify with the fast moving grief hiker; I would call my pace quick and steady.  Looking back on this year I can see that I wanted to climb the mountain of grief in the quickest way possible (aka picking the most direct route to the top, which I found out was also the steepest!).
If I had to title my grief process I think I would name it, “Girl on Fire!”  I was willing to do anything and everything to tackle the pain of losing my husband.  I’m not kidding. If someone shared with me a class, book, person, or activity that they had heard was helpful in dealing with the loss of a loved one I would do it.  I have read books, taken classes, gone on retreats (not one retreat, but three retreats!). I have participated, and still participate in several different types of therapy (individual, family, group, widow’s support group)…you name it, and I have most likely done it.  I believe loss comes in many forms. For me it was the loss of my husband but for others it could be the loss of employment, a loved one, a pet, a child moving out, or anything that leaves us feeling a void or a loss. You might wonder why I’m sharing with you my process of this past year.  I share to help give all of us who have suffered from loss permission; permission to move through it at our own pace. 
When I was in the early throws of grieving Chris I made a decision to move forward with absolute resolve.  So up the mountain of grief I charged!  Head down.  Steady paced.  Determined that no matter what, I would move forward and through. I didn’t care if there were boulders, rock slides, snakes, blizzards; I was making it to the top!  Oh, and you need to know that there were lots of people with me when I started my climb.  Family, friends and even strangers wanted to come with me.  It was great because I needed the company.  However, I may have forgotten to tell them one important thing; "you need to keep up, because if you don’t, I’m leaving you behind”.  I paused at one point, pulled my head up and looked around, and I realized that I had lost many of my fellow hikers.  Not everyone could, or wanted to move at my pace.  I would like to say that I slowed down, or that I was interested in keeping us together, but I wasn’t.  I needed to keep moving.
Somewhere in these recent weeks I have slowed down a bit to reflect.  I was upset to find that my route did not suit so many others. At one point, there was a very large group climbing beside me.  But now there were only a few (plug in sad theme song here, All by Myself).  I was upset that so many found their own route.  Yes, me, the Queen of don’t judge me.  The Queen of let me grieve my own way…I was actively upset and judging others for their own grief processes.  I was upset they choose a different path that better suited them. What I wanted and needed from everyone else was the very thing I was being stingy with, giving people compassion and space to do it their own way. 
With time and reflection I can now see that my route is not the best for most, but it is and was the perfect one for me.  This year long climb has shown me the beauty of letting each person find their way through loss, fast, slow, steady, meandering, or anything in-between. Each of us is doing our best to honor our own climb up the same mountain.  I now see that I can have my own way while honoring the method others have chosen.  I wonder what song I will be singing now.  Currently in my head I am hearing, “The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music”…not bad, I will take that!

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