Power of grief


I was with a friend and trying to describe this grieving process and I said “ The process of going through Doug’s dying process feels like a walk in the park compared to what is happening now.” In hindsight I don’t want to diminish the hardship that we both went through..especially Doug in that ten month journey. It is only that we always had each other to share the difficulties of that journey. The intimacy of that journey together was what made it possible for me to go through with as much grace as we experienced. There was always a hand to hold and another perspective to learn from. It was of course Doug’s choice of how he made his journey to the end. It was my journey to support him and to listen to my own needs as a caregiver. This was made easier by our agreement not to hide our experiences from each other.

My journey now is ultimately one that is alone. I have my family and my friends who are supporting me in anyway possible but it is up to me to create this new life. I have read a few things on grief that had a range of suggestions. Some have a cheerleader voice of “you can do this” approach. Another is more about it will take time and its okay to feel. Neither of these spoke much to this depth of pain that I had no words to describe. Recently I was sent an article on grief by Elizabeth Gilbert and it spoke to me deeply to what I have been experiencing. (She is an excellent writer and expresser of things deep.)

She spoke of the power of grief and how it takes you. She described it as a tsunami. In my limited experience of this type of grief it is such an apt description of this wave barreling in on you. The only way to be is to dive deep into it and let it take you. There is a physicality to it that I had not imagined. I feel like I can’t breathe..my heart is racing and then comes the exhale letting it out. Breathing.. crying.. words.. Letting life in..pain out.. In these moments I am not adding a story line but simply expressing something that is moving through me.

Grief is not what I imagined it to be. I had been grieving Doug’s illness for months.. I had grieved other deaths..my parents, my siblings, a best friend and deep personal losses. But this grief has a power and rhythm that I was not expecting. I had assumed that grief would lessen her hold on me but at times it has worsened. I think that there is some part of life that helps us through the trauma of loss. It is as though it holds some of that wave back so as not to shock the heart more than it can bear. And then for me there has been another level of a deepening realization that I shall never see this man I love so much and it feels physically and emotionally unbearable. Then suddenly I am out of the wave and washed on the shore again finding my footing in the shifting sands of my new life.

There is a part of me that wants to create the future happy ending of this grief. The deep realizations..the raw undoing of some ego structure that opens me ever deeper. But here, right now there is no knowing if this grief will lead me to deeper places and knowing..or if I will always carry this hollow place in my heart. Right now my work is to just be with this process..not judging my responses nor hoping for a different experience. And there are times of gratefulness..of the beauty I see so often around me or that I had such an amazing intimate relationship for so much of my life. And I sense the gift of Life itself.

So..How am I doing? I am in terrible grief and moments of wonderment and sometimes both are here at once.

32 thoughts on “Power of grief

  1. Hi Walker,
    We have never met, but I have been greatly impacted by Doug’s work. I am sending you so much love and huge hug across the miles…I an inspired by your courage, vulnerability and capacity to move forward on this journey. You are in our prayers. Thank you for sharing your process with us.


  2. As a sister widow, my heart breaks for you. I have heard fresh grief described as riding a roller coaster in the dark. I think that pretty much sums it up, at least for me. God bless you, Walker, and one day at a time!!


  3. My heart aches for you. I find that nothing but time and self-love can ease such deep grief. Know that you are loved and held during this grieving process, Walker.


  4. So how are you doing? You’re showing up; you’re writing beautifully, and it seems the game is this (to pull on Gilbert’s message): just be willing. Willing to feel whatever grief brings…and my greatest hope for you is that you know you are held in thought and prayers by all here.


  5. Walker,
    Thank you for what both you and Doug have contributed to my life.

    A friend of mine told me that with time our body, our soul, our being expands to make room for our grief which becomes a part of our wholeness.

    Daring to speak for all of us whose lives you and Doug have touched, we arel in our own ways walking along side of you with gratitude.




  6. Dear Walker:
    There are no words that can ease your suffering. It seems inconceivable that you will never hold Doug in your arms or feel his gaze on your face. The grief of losing the man that loved everything about you is immense. Your rock, your heart, your home was taken from you way too early. It will take a very long time. I feel a deep sadness everytime I see your empty house, so I can’t even imagine the enormity of your sadness. Please know you are welcome anytime. Bob and I miss our neighbors. Come by for dinner on Sunday, or any day you feel like company.


  7. April 2016, Paul- the love of my life passed away in my arms.

    At times I still forget to inhale …(and If not for the autonomic nervous system I probably wouldn’t)

    But these times are further apart.

    We grieve as a solo person- we heal as a tribe. Call – connect anytime

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Pam,
      I am sorry to hear of your loss. I can’t really imagine going through this grief without the support of my loving family and friends and also the wonderful people who read this blog and send their support. The support is so important right now not only for me but for all of us. There is so much loss in our lives…politically with the division and enviromentally. Thank you for your kind support..Walker


  8. Thank you for sharing what you are experiencing. My partner came very near to death, and I had to imagine life without him. I know by that imagining the loneliness you must feel, at least to some degree. Blessings to you, Walker.


  9. The capacity to allow the grief and ride the waves…be the waves…shows you your authenticity…no grief is ever like the ones before it…..and it doesn’t stay the same for long….it is as complex as the one who has passed from us….and how the weaving of their presence with ours untangles a bit and leaves us feeling our oneness that perhaps has a different color and flavor than how we had become familiar with experiencing ourself identified and joined with the one who has passed….
    you are wise to allow the grief….and also wise to reach out if you need some familiar holding💚
    much gratitude to you Walker…sending warm hugs…


  10. Beautifully expressed Walker. Thank you 💚
    Although I have not lost a lifetime partner, I have lost much this year. I deeply appreciate this post. I hold you in my heart as the waves come and go, and return yet again.


    1. Micah, I am sorry to hear that you have lost much this year. May we both remember that we are not alone in this ocean of grief even as our individual waves break around us..hugs Walker


  11. Walker, Hameed wrote of grief in LUMINOUS NIGHT’S JOURNEY. I know you can’t skip over what’s here now, but there are depths to be explored in this grief roller coaster you have been given. Blessings on your process.


  12. Thank you for continuing to share your process with us. I am deeply honored to bear witness. You give me courage and your process deepens my capacity to turn down beneath the surface maybe for just a second longer.


    Those who will not slip beneath
    the still surface on the well of grief,

    turning down through its black water
    to the place we cannot breathe,

    will never know the source from which we drink,
    the secret water, cold and clear,

    nor find in the darkness glimmering,
    the small round coins,
    thrown by those who wished for something else.

    The Well of Grief
    River Flow
    David Whyte

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love this poem and have listened to David Whyte read it on you tube a number of times. Poetry and music can touch places that are so deep. Thank you

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Walker,
    Thank you for continuing to share your voice, offer us beautiful and stirring glimpses into your heart and journey.
    Is there anybody out there?
    We are here.
    We are here.

    Deepest gratitude and love,


  14. Hello Walker – your words touch me deeply! I met Doug during my CTI leadership program 10 years ago. I also lost my husband, Art Shirk, almost two years ago now. I appreciate your thoughts & willingness to share your journey. The tsunami of grief is real. Just yesterday I pulled out a pair of Art’s pajamas and found a tissue on his in the pocket. I squeezed it as tight as I could and burst into tears. For me, one of the biggest lessons is to continue to try to expand my sense of open heartedness and simply be with all that presents itself without changing it, fixing it or pushing it away. I wish you refuge in the moments when the tsunami recedes.


    1. John.. I think continuing to expand your open heartedness and be with what is sounds like a perfect practice. Thank you for sharing..Walker


  15. I can’t imagine what you are going through. I was with Doug for PBC1 and PBC2 in 2015, on some community calls with him and was looking forward to future training opportunities with him. I loved him and am missing him and that future of learning from him. When my mother died 1 week after my wedding. It was the happiest and saddest time in my life, sometimes both at once. Sending my love to you on your journey if grief and wonderment…..


  16. Thank you, Walker, for your vulnerability and courage that translates to deep wisdom in your lovingly arranged words….. Sending much love and gratitude.


  17. Walker, thank you so much for continuing to share your journey with us. It is so healing for me. My continued prayers as you move through this indescribable grief. Love and Blessings!!


  18. I was just exposed to Doug Silsbee through BTI course. The more I read and watched Doug I was profounded touched with his knowledge, wisdom, and experience. I was completely captivated by his teachings. I couldn’t wait to read his books and find more videos with Rod and Doug, and than I came across some extra videos. I was so excited to listen to them, but the excitement quickly turned to sorrow when I learned Doug is fighting cancer. I wanted to thank you for touching so many people lives, like mine, in such a short amount of time. My thoughts are with Walker and Doug!


  19. We have met on your veranda during a training several years ago, but you will not remember me. I remember you, though, and Doug – very well. Seven years ago, I was walking the path you are walking today. I read the books. I went to grief class. I saw a therapist. I prayed. It all helped, but it was incomplete for me, as it is for you. I did read one book, however, that came at just the right time. I wanted to share the title. It helped me turn a corner. By noted writer, C. S. Lewis, it’s entitled A Grief Observed. It’s his story of deep grief following his wife’s untimely death. Just thought I’d mention it. God bless you, Walker. It will get better. I promise. -Gloria Reading


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