About a year and a half before my husband died, we had moved to a farmhouse on a tree farm with twenty-seven isolated acres. It felt like an adventure to be experiencing nature in a new way with coyote, wild turkeys, fox, families of deer, and other creatures roaming just outside the door. There were barns, and streams, and paths through the woods. Then Bill died and I was living in this wilderness by myself.
What I saw then were snakes, unknown people who smashed my mailbox, hornet mansions attached to the house, mice in every shoe and cubby. There were piles of bills I couldn’t pay, people who demanded answers I didn’t have about his business, a big truck I’d never driven. I saw fear everywhere.
Because there were no other choices at the time, I just kept going, but I was grieving hard without much time to think about it. When I couldn’t pretend to keep being a normal human anymore, I’d go to bed. There, I’d surround myself with anything that brought me comfort: my dogs, a bag of journals to write and re-read, photo albums, grief books, tissues, television. I spent a lot of hours there crying, thinking and feeling. That bed became my place to grieve, the place I associated with comfort.
In time, I was more capable of living through my days rather than just pacing them off and I needed that comfort less. I’d also grown more used to being alone in the wilderness. I reluctantly set mouse traps that killed only two mice before they got the idea and moved on. That kept the snakes away from the house too. I learned what I needed to know about the equipment and business that were now mine, and got a handle on the financial burden that came with loss. Healing slowly gave me confidence to tackle the problems, and tackling the problems increased my confidence.
I stayed in that house for four years alone and it became the place I healed. The early adventure of it was gone, the fear of living alone in it dissipated, and my grief shrunk. I now think of that house in the woods as a place that comforted me through grief.
Wherever you are in your grief, you need a place to go that comforts you when you’re feeling most needy. Whether it’s a beach, or a friend’s house, or a room, or a chair, claim it as a spot to feel and then heal. Having a place that waits for your grief reminds you that you need to allow feelings an escape, and comfort an entrance. Where is your place to grieve? Leave a comment and let us know how you process your worst struggles.