How can participation in an Aerial and Rope Adventure Course high in the redwoods be a metaphor for grief?
In May, Papillon Center for Loss & Transition traveled to the Mount Hermon Adventure Center with 14 participants from the adult bereavement program. After donning protective gear and learning how to work the cable attachments, each person ventured onto the course which included swinging logs, cargo nets, zip lines set in a course 30-80 feet in the air among the redwoods.
Everyone carried a small wooden butterfly in their back pocket…on it was written the name of the person who died and a beloved characteristic of that person.
This experience was something extraordinarily challenging, sometimes frightening, always unfamiliar….just like grief. Each person had to dig deep at some time during the course just to take the next step. Each person wanted to turn around and go back…..but that wasn’t a viable option; one cannot turn around in grief either. One has to figure out a way to go forward under some of the most difficult circumstances.
All participants completed the course. We witnessed unbelievable courage, persistence and trust in ourselves and in one another. Each person touched a vessel of internal strength that they didn’t know they had. After the doubt and the fearfulness, each person proved to him or herself that they COULD DO IT.
And most of all, strength came from within the community of people connected to one another because of their grief…no one did it alone…..just like no one can do grief alone.
It was a day of miracles, growth and healing.