Don't Follow the Path - Blaze the Trail - Part 3
Detours are Never Short-cuts
No matter what path you take, the trail that leads through grief is not an easy journey. To be sure, some of the vistas you are rewarded with along the way are among the most breath-takingly beautiful you can imagine, but every step along the way is laborious and hard-won. There are bogs of anger, doubt, confusion, guilt, and desperation that are so deep and wide that you may doubt your ability to slog your way through. You will find yourself struggling to navigate rutted stretches of mood-swings, that toss you back and forth so violently between crushing agony and peaceful remembrances that you feel yourself careening precariously out of control.
This road you find yourself on is not one you ever wanted to travel. It isn’t a trip you chose – and sometimes it is sorely tempting to veer hopefully toward the first off-ramp you can find. When you are in the midst of the pain, it feels like anywhere is better than where you are.
That is precisely what I did after losing my relationship with my first husband, Wayne, when he passed on, leaving me to battle guilt, self-doubt, and loneliness. I was most certainly not alone. I had amazing family and friends there to support me, but I was alone in my grief which made me feel very much alone in reality. I couldn’t share my thoughts and feelings with anyone because I couldn’t bear that they might agree with my worst fears – that I had let Wayne down, that I had let him die – that it was my fault that we were all without this amazing person we loved.
The road ahead had seemed to wash out before me. I couldn’t see a way through and for a time, I ached for nothing more than to just join Wayne and while I came close at times to just jumping into the abyss of the shattered bridge of my life – God led me through in spite of myself but while I didn’t take that ultimate detour, I did pursue every single mini-detour I could find. Those who were with me through that time watched while I partied too hard, drank too much, busied myself with everything – just to avoid that horrible path I had fled. Some of my pursuits were worthy – one even led me to the amazing family that I never thought I would have.
The trouble with detours? Eventually you always have to get back to that gnarly path that you fled because grief is one of those trips that you always have to complete and I’m sure you all know that detours never return you to your course gently, smoothly, or easily. Such was my case. I was going along blissfully! A wonderful husband, 2 fabulous sons, a great community – life was GREAT until suddenly it wasn’t.
A really minor blip – barely a gentle speedbump ejected me from my glorious detour and slammed me back into the mire of grief, except at the time, I didn’t even recognize that I had returned to the grief I thought I had left behind. I found myself overcome. The guilt and self-doubt that I left behind had grown and now reared up as full-blown shame but rather than facing it alone – I was mortified that now I was sucking the most precious people in the world down with me.
I am BLESSED that God had chosen my detour for me very carefully and He had placed me with the perfect person who gave me both space and support in exacting measures to let me remember who I was, where I was, what I was doing, and why. He gave me my True Companion.
Not everyone is so fortunate. Detours can lead you down paths that can cause you to lose your way so completely that you can’t even find the road any longer. Drugs, alcohol, sex – these are a few such detours that might seem to offer relief from the unbearable pain of grief, and for a very short while, they might actually work. But before long you will find that the grief returns right on top of the added turmoil of addiction which will skew your ability to face your grief realistically.
Let’s also go back and look at the ultimate detour again. My friends, suicide is not an answer to anything. We are here for a reason and most of us don’t know exactly what that reason is. Every day we are given on this Earth is a gift. Yes, every single day – the fabulous ones no more than the excruciating ones. Each day we are given more and more opportunities to accomplish the great quest of our life. Every single experience we have and the manner in which we face them all contributes in its own indecipherable way to accomplishing what we were placed here to do. I don’t know what that purpose is – but I know that God does, and I know that He is a Loving God and I trust He will place the precise tasks before me that will allow me to accomplish the reason for my very existence. Do you suppose that there is an ‘escape pod’ that will remove you from the obligation that is uniquely yours? No, I don’t think so either. While I don’t pretend to know exactly how, I am quite certain that whatever you don’t accomplish – whatever you don’t face – whatever you don’t learn, here on your visit to Earth, you will still need to finish up in some other way or some other time.
So, that brings us back to the simple yet brutal truth of today’s blog – detours are not short-cuts. My very precious friends, stay the course, though the way before you may appear hopeless or perhaps even disappear from sight entirely at times, keep placing one foot in front of the other and your trail will find you. When it does – stay with it and experience every minute as only you can. Reach out for the hands of those who love you on the way. You will find them there, eager to be your strength when you have none, your warmth when you are frozen, and your guide when the way ahead has become blocked.