2020 - Mar - CDT - Active Life - A Walk with Grief
A Walk with Grief
A couple years ago my family and I were in the airport getting ready to begin a trip to Florida. Since we arrived a bit early for our flight, we had some time to spare and I wandered into the gift shop. As has happened to me before in other stores, a book caught my eye – it was as if it jumped towards me from the shelf. I felt the draw of its pages, picked it up and read its title, Hiking Through: One Man’s Journey to Peace and Freedom on the Appalachian Trail by Paul Stutzman. The synopsis on the back cover described Paul’s story: after the death of his wife, he listened to his heart and followed a dream by hiking the entire 2,176 mile Appalachian Trail.
Needless to say, this book had my attention. It contained three touchstones for me - loss, grief and hiking. In quiet moments over the next week in Florida, I spent time with Paul on the trail. I learned about his wife, family, grief, Christian tradition, adventures, challenges and healing. “My life, flowing merrily along, had suddenly arrived at an abyss where everything fell away and the waters tumbled and crashed over the edge. But after the abrupt, headlong plunge down the cliff, the river quiets itself in pools and then moves on steadily and unhindered. I wanted the same for my life.” Paul’s four-and-a-half-month walk along the trail brought him back to life and living.
As Paul discovered, walking can be a path to healing. I once worked with a man whose wife and adult child both died within months of each other. Taking walks with friends was one way he moved his grief. Grief is something we feel on the inside, mourning is how we move it to the outside. We can do that in an infinite number of ways. For example, we can: cry; talk to family, friends, support group members or professionals; write in journals; create art through music, photography, painting and other forms; and move our bodies through dancing, jogging, hiking and walking, to name a few.
Studies have found that physical activity generally has a positive effect on a person’s mood. Research also supports walking outside as a way to reduce dwelling on negative feelings. Plus, for some, walking in groups can decrease feelings of loneliness. For all of these reasons and more, we have combined efforts with Centre Region Parks and Recreation (CRPR) to offer A Walk with Grief.
As is says on the CRPR website, A Walk With Grief is not an exercise program but instead a time of coming together with others who are grieving a loss and...walking. You can speak and share with others, or you can move about in silence. The important thing is to show-up. Sessions will be one hour and held at different parks in our community. There will be six sessions and participants will receive park information once registration is complete. For ages 18 and over at $12/resident and $18/non-resident. For more information, call the instructor, Jackie Naginey Hook, at 814-404-0546. Please register by April 17 at www.CRPR.org.
In addition to A Walk with Grief, other upcoming educational and support programs include:
- Monday’s Moments Complimentary Luncheon – “Inside-Out Healing,” Monday, April 6 from 12:00 to 1:30 p.m. at the Courtyard by Marriott, 1730 University Drive, State College - When we get a cut, our bodies heal from the inside out. When we lose a loved one, we heal in the same way. At this gathering, we’ll discuss ways to help ourselves heal. RSVP by emailing Jackie@JackieHook.com, calling 814-404-0546 or by visiting the Koch Funeral Home Facebook page by Thursday, April 2.
- Death Café, the third of Monday of the month, April 20 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. at Webster’s Bookstore Café, 133 East Beaver Avenue, State College with complimentary desserts provided by Webster’s - Please join us at the monthly Death Café where we’ll drink coffee and tea, eat cake and discuss death. Our goal is to increase awareness to help us all make the most of our lives. This is a discussion group not a grief support or counseling session.
- Thankful, Thoughtful Thursdays, Thursdays, April 9 through May 14 from 10:00 a.m. to noon (including lunch) at the Bellefonte Senior Resource Center, 110 N. Spring Street, Bellefonte - Being thoughtful about the following topics can make you more thankful now: hospice and what happens as we die, Have the Talk of a Lifetime, instructions to the funeral director, appropriate legal documents, companioning ourselves and others through grief and many more. RSVP to Vickey at 814-355-6720 by the Friday the week before the class.
For more information about these programs, please visit Koch Funeral Home website’s Bereavement Gatherings and Events section under the Local Resources tab. All of these events are open to the public and space is limited.
We hope you can join us at one of our gatherings.
Jackie Hook, MA, is a spiritual director, celebrant and end-of-life doula. She coordinates the Helping Grieving Hearts Heal program through Koch Funeral Home in State College. For more information, please call 814-237-2712 or visit www.kochfuneralhome.com.