Five years ago, my folks and I went on an adventure to San Francisco. It was the second time that I have traveled with my parents all alone as a grown up daughter on a trip.... Just me as a grownup and them as my parents. This is personal time that I will treasure for ever.
During this trip to San Francisco, we visited the famed Alcatraz. Alcatraz is an old prison known for being a tough horrible place. It has not had prisoners in many years. It is a huge tourist attraction because of the historical value. It feels like stepping back into time...
We had been in SF for two days before our scheduled trip to this famed island. For these two days we could view this landmark from almost anywhere in the area. By the time it was "our turn" to jump onto that boat carrying us out there, we had viewed it from many vantage points in the city- From the Golden gate bridge...From the pier...From the top of the city.
As part of the Alcatraz tour, they described how torturous it would be for the prisoners to hear "normal" life on the busy piers occurring as the breezes carried their voices to the island. Those prisoners could hear "life" going on-- just outside of their reach-- but they could not participate.
No one asked to go to Alcatraz. It was a prison and they had been sentenced. Eventually, some of these prisoners served their sentences and left that island.
I began to see that grief has many similarities to Alcatraz. No one asked to go to that prison. It was a dark and lonely place at times. From the island of grief, we can see the rest of the world that goes on around us. We are JUST far enough that we sometimes cannot participate.
Also, I began to think about how we escape from grief. How do we try to leave that island? What are our individual coping mechanisms? Because we are humans, our individual responses will be different.
-Sometimes we make huge life changes quickly to escape the island of grief.
-If our spouse dies then we may jump into a relationship quickly. Quick escapes.
-Alcohol is a frequent escape that many use to try to leave the island of grief.
-Maybe we move. Change jobs. Anything to try to relieve the stress and try to ESCAPE.
Allow me to tell you something else new and interesting that I learned about Alcatraz. It is a really beautiful but rocky island. When it was a prison, the warden, guards, and their families actually lived on the island. They were able to fully use and enjoy the island of Alcatraz. There are exotic birds and flowers. It was a great and happy place to these people who were not sentenced to live immobilized behind the bars of the famed prison.
When I was first sentenced to the island of grief. I was afraid. I cannot say that I have completely served my sentence... I am uncertain if the sentence is ever completely over. I CAN tell you that I am no longer confined to the prison walls and I can see the quiet beauty of the island.... Today and most days. Although for everything there is a season...
Do not try to prematurely escape from your Alcatraz. You will eventually have more freedom from your grief. One day you will look over and realize just how far you have come.