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Grief in the Balance

Updated: Aug 26, 2022


I was reminded of balance while visiting Fern Canyon in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. The trail follows Home Creek for about one mile. The depth of the crystal-clear water varies in relationship to the rain fall, but the water is ALWAYS COLD. The stunning trail winds its way through a canyon. High walls on both sides are perfect for growing a variety of ferns and plants that love to grow in the rich damp soil. As a hiker, my options were #1, wade in the frigid water and get wet or #2, hike across fallen trunks, logs and branches and stay dry. My decision, stay dry.


What does my hike in Fern Canyon have to do with your life that is steeped in grief? Two concepts come to mind, stability and assistance.


In order for me to stay dry on my hike, I had to trust the stability of the fallen trees. Stability kept me safe. Once I made a conscious decision to feel the wood beneath my feet it was a matter of putting one foot in front of the other as I balanced my way across. The earth and the tree trunks under me were not moving, I needed to slow down and mindfully feel their support.


For you, the bereaved, the earth can be a stable support for you. Taking a barefoot walk through the grass can be a great reminder that you are supported. Even though life is heavy under the burden of grief, you can be grounded. Once you feel grounded and supported by the earth, observe what else in your life is a constant? Do you have a dog who greets you every day? Is there a comfy sofa that can support you and remind you that you are safe? What will offer you stability over and over again? Slow down, feel the support and count on these to ground you.


My daughter waded through the water beside me as I balanced and traversed the logs. Each time I came to a new different trunk to cross, Briana stood next to me, ready to offer her assistance. I’m a very independent stubborn woman and at first, I was offended by her gesture. “Did she really think I wasn’t capable of balancing along these branches?” It didn’t take me long to realize that her shoulder was a welcome connecting point. Briana provided stability, long enough for me to gain my balance before I began the shuffle, over the trunk, to the opposite creek bank. I appreciated her assistance that prevented me from getting wet.


While living with grief in life, are you willing to accept assistance when it is offered? You probably have realized that not everyone who says “call me if you need anything” really means it. However, you know friends who truly want to be of service in any way you need. There is absolutely nothing wrong with allowing them to lighten the burden. Your life has been turned upside down. Navigating grief is daunting. If you can count on one or two true friends to come along side you and support you, their assistance will be greatly appreciated.


Living with grief will require you to balance between the desire to curl up and hibernate in a cocoon of apathetic gloom and the need to participate in the hustle and bustle of chaotic everyday life. It isn’t easy. Allowing time for both, what you desire and what you need, is perfect. However, remaining in either scenario will soon prove to be unhealthy. Just like following the trail in Fern Canyon, I needed to balance across the water to get to the other side. You will find stability and assistance in order to find your balance. Living with grief in life requires grief to be in the balance.



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