Paddling hard


One of the fun activities I get to do each summer is white-water rafting. I take the church preteens to a camp near Grand Lake, Colorado. During the week, we take a half-day trip down the Colorado River, making our way past Class 2 rapids and paddling hard, following the commands of the guide on each raft. Anticipating the river adventure this summer, I am reminded that the grief journey requires careful maneuvering as well.

The most important part of white-water rafting is listening to the commands of your guide. These skilled people know the river. They travel it daily for months and are familiar with the rapids, the ins and outs of the currents, and know what to expect around each bend of the river. You can trust they know their stuff.

As you walk through grief, there will be some people who want to give you instruction and direction. While people mean well, unless someone has walked through a similar loss, they can lack the ability to really understand your situation. Because each person’s loss is unique, what helps someone else will not necessarily be helpful to you. If you are not careful, you can find yourself paddling hard yet making little headway toward healing. Pray for wisdom as advice is given to you. Spending time in prayer and reading the Bible can give you peace and comfort as you find yourself paddling hard to keep your grief-filled raft afloat.

Taking advantage of the wind and current allows the rafter to grab a much-needed break in between bouts of strenuous work and paddling hard to make headway against the elements encountered on the river. Looking ahead and preparing for the upcoming rapids is key to staying in the boat as the waves begin to pound and you find your raft tossed on the water.

Having an idea of what to expect on your grief journey can be helpful. Recognizing and taking advantage of an easy day that presents itself amid the torrents of grief is vital. Those moments of relief can prepare you to endure the hard stretches you are sure to encounter when grief comes pounding and raging from time to time.

While paddling hard is necessary is making your way down the river, doing so correctly helps conserve your energy for the long haul. Leaning into each stroke allows for more power while reserving strength in your arms. Digging deep and working hard is essential to keep moving in the right direction.

Finding ways to lean into your loss will help you go the distance on your grief walk. Realize that fighting your sorrow will only prolong the journey. Instead, embrace the pain in order to move ahead and make progress on a difficult path.

Your grief journey requires the difficult work of paddling hard in order to move forward. Just as the raft steadily moves along, you can find yourself encouraged when you look back and see how far you have come. May you find the strength to continue as you focus and envision reaching your destination of healing and dealing with your grief in a healthy and safe manner.

Until next time –



Grief Letters By Karen Bransgrove, Published by WestBow Press. You can order here.

Hardcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869674

Softcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869667

E-Book | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869650

Also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

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