Sojourning with Grief-The Call to Go Home

Grief draws me to the ocean, leading me home. North Oregon Coast. Photo by anne richardson

Grief draws me to the ocean, leading me home. North Oregon Coast. Photo by anne richardson

Grief Invites Me Home

“I am a becoming.” In philosophy “becoming” means the process of coming to be something or of passing into a state. That one sentence was all that sputtered from my pen the other night as I meditated in preparation for my eight-week sojourn home. I am a becoming. It didn’t make sense. But then much of what has been unfolding in my life the last six months has less to do with making sense and more about letting go. Less about analyzing loss and more about holding Grief’s hand and saying “yes” to the journey.

I am going home. To my root home. My DNA home. To my Celtic ancestors. A call that was faint months ago now chatters around me daily. Voices excited I have listened, sing me to sleep at night. They are clear in their message: “Keep listening.” “Unpack what you don’t need.” “The less you take, the more you can receive when you arrive.”

I better back up! If you have followed my blog, you know my mother died just over a year ago. We had journeyed together though her decline with Alzheimer’s dementia and though her dementia was worsening, it was her heart that decided it had had enough. In the middle-stages, about three years ago, I would say to myself, “when Mom is gone, I am going to take a trip to England (her and my father’s homeland) and return some of her ashes.” It brought me solace to contemplate it and would be a sweet honoring. A simple trip.

My sojourn home

My sojourn home

And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything? And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for? And have you changed your life?
— exerpt from Swan by Mary Oliver
My mother’s cremains in two containers. One for this home. One for England.

My mother’s cremains in two containers. One for this home. One for England.

Unfolding Spiritual Journey

Someone asked me how a trip to take my mother’s ashes home evolved into the spiritual journey that is unfolding. That made me pause, for I am “becoming” this call now and it was difficult to remember. At the start it was like assembling a jigsaw puzzle and the pieces were scatter before me. I didn’t have the design in front of me, so I’d pick up pieces, placing them intuitively in a pattern Over time a partial image emerged, offering clues for the next step. I still don’t have a complete image and I am comfortable with that. I don’t know that this “puzzle” will ever be complete. At some point I feel I’ll walk away from it, ready to move on, for “complete” isn’t even a desired outcome.

I also felt adrift after my mother’s death and at a pivot point in my own life. The soil within was parched and ready for an infusion of rich and loamy dirt. Something that could sustain the seeds being planted for new ways of being. I spent time in reflection and listening. I checked in with Grief and asked, “What’s next?” I began reading about my Celtic roots and felt spiritually connected to the deep wells within and those embedded in the land overseas. I made a promise to myself as I folded into my 60th year that I would say “yes” to adventure like a new moon returning to the sun after being in shadow, ready to be swallowed back into the fiery light. And so I tried out small adventures and grew stronger.

Saying “Yes” to the Changes Loss Initiates

Research in preparation for my trip based on intuition would lead me down a path and I would say “yes” to that and “no” to something else (remember, saying “no” is another way of saying “yes.”) And the “simple trip” grew into a sojourn. A homecoming. I will experience new landscapes in rocks, moors, standing stones, lakes, streams, shorelines, and paths waiting across the sea. I am already exploring my inner landscapes as they shift, emerge, and fall away.

There is so much more to say. The shift from earth to water to fire. The catching of breath, then a mighty exhale as I send my spirit out ahead of my body. The power of swan after discovering swan is my Celtic zodiac sign (here is a link to the full Mary Oliver poem quoted above: Meeting Brigid and feeling her welcoming presence in the evening as I meditate in preparation. All this and more I will share on this blog and on Facebook, Instagram (@nurtureyourjourney) and LinkedIn (see links in footer) if you would like to follow along on the journey.

Yes, it is my journey, initiated by loss. And it is universal in that all loss sets in motion change and the possibility for transformation. Sometimes small and delicate. Sometimes shifting entire landscapes. Come with me. Then, as loss enters into your life and a jigsaw puzzle with no image is strewn before you, perhaps you can find something useful from my words. Something to help you pick up that first piece and say “I’ll place you here.”


When was a time you experienced a loss that shifted your inner landscape? What helped you cope? Define “home” for youself and then reflect on what would “coming home” look like to you?

Next Grief Workshop-Focus on Transitions

August 10th, 1-5pm in SW Portland: Recognizing & Honoring Life Transitions.

This workshop is a popular one!


Workshop Details

We transition from the wet womb to open air, sucking in first breath. Relationships form. Some endure. Some end. Our sense of home and belonging shifts. What gives life meaning—school, career, family, beauty, creativity, service—ebbs and flows as we age. Our lives are full of transitions. Some weave in and out of our world seamlessly, going unrecognized until years later. Others create a temporary loss of balance. Then there are the transitions that leave you feeling like the GPS of your life has gone haywire.

Taking time to recognize life transitions by naming them can offer relief, release, or an invitation to honor a part of your life journey that you may not have considered relevant.

In this workshop, you’ll be introduced to the archetype of the labyrinth as a tool to reflect on your life transitions in combination with written expression and other creative means. No writing experience is necessary to participate!  This workshop is in partnership with Portland Women Writers ( and is for women or those who identify female. Workshop is limited to 12 participants.

Follow this link to register or to contact me for more information.