According to Webster, the word ‘journey’ is defined as an act or instance of traveling from one place to another. Is this definition applicable to a grief journey? Can we prepare for it just as we would for maybe a cross-country trip by train? I think not.

Coping with and traveling through grief is probably one of the grimmest and painstaking journeys that one must travel. Unfortunately, there is no way to prepare, right? Well, hold on because I want to share something with you.

Why do we grieve? We grieve because we loved. It is natural and normal to grieve the loss of our dear loved ones as we accept the permanency of losing their physical presence. Grieving is a process we have to take to acknowledge and accept that we will not be given another chance to talk with them. We miss the true essence of the relationship as we cling tightly to the cherished memories.

It is beneficial and necessary to travel this road to discover and experience life without them. We must do the grief work so we can reach a place of peace and comfort, which will become a place of new normalcy in our lives.

Trying to avoid, suppress, or simply skip this part of the grief journey can bring on negative physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual consequences. So, we must travel through this wilderness of pain. But, the question is, "Can we prepare for it – this grief journey?"

It is conceivable that if we truly accept the certainty and fragility of life, we might indirectly prepare for the journey of grief. Yes, the notification of death is always unexpected and a shock, no matter the cause; however, if we were to actually practice acts of love and gratitude by appreciating and living each moment fully, the challenges of preparing for the grief journey may be less burdensome and short-lived.

After assisting hundreds of families making final arrangements for loved ones and hearing countless stories filled with guilt, regret, unfulfilled hopes, and lost dreams, my heart sang in earnest, "Everything in life is temporary, including life itself. Decide to say YES to the gift of now." Isn't this the truth? Isn't each day or hour, moment or even breath a gift? Open it NOW!

John T. Catrett, III serves as a Chaplain with ONHL Hospice. ONHL Hospice currently provides services to the majority of Northeastern Oklahoma but is available to accept patients statewide. Learn more at http://onhlhospice.com.