As I look back over four years, my journey reveals that moving toward, encountering, and passing through the four Gateways of Wisdom along a healing path can guide a grieving person to navigate this unfamiliar territory and, ultimately, to arrive at her Reconciled Self. The four Gateways of Wisdom are Acceptance, Forgiveness, Gratitude, and Engagement.

As I begin to reinhabit some semblance of my former life as a woman, an activist, professional consultant and author, I reflect on Karl’s unique contribution, his Giveaway. I also benefit significantly from personal reflection, practical meaning-making, counting my blessings, acknowledging small accomplishments, and discovering ways of channeling grief into a positive process to help others. The palpable benefits of my survivor mission activism (shared with two close friends) nourish my self-confidence and sense of self-worth. I find that undertaking that activist work, at the appropriate time and in the community of loved ones, makes a world of difference to me.

Authentic self-care is a pre-requisite to activism

While grief cannot have a pre-determined or straightforward timeline or trajectory, I learn that authentic self-care is a pre-requisite to activism. It nourishes healing, and it must always come first.

And, while service to a more significant cause than my healing gradually reconnects me with my spirit and vitality, I discover that I also need to care enough about myself to turn to my heart to find peace, clarity, and direction before I act. Self-care, while necessary and valuable, has limited long-term benefits for the grieving person as an end in itself. I believe that it is part of our journey, not the ultimate destination. We should not be distracted by self-care and lose our focus on other things that can bring meaning into our lives.

My grief journey teaches me that an important healing task is to search for meaning and to bring events to come sort of completion. We must celebrate the benefits of getting out and about. That is the ultimate key to healing, in my experience. When a signpost on any Gateway on our healing path points outwards, I believe that it is wise to lean in that direction.

Holding in our heart the image and essence of a beloved person heals us on many levels and is immensely helpful to the departed one. It also adds to the quantum of love and healing in our world.

That is important because all our grief is, at its foundation, sadness for all life on Earth. I feel that in my profound grief, but I did not fully recognize it for some time. Now, surrounded by the grief and suffering of the Australian bushfire emergency in 2019 and 2020, and the shock of the rapidly developing coronavirus crisis, I feel the deepest sadness and compassion for all life on Earth. Ultimately, we may find, as our beloved Earth is perishing, that we need to convert our love for other humans into our life for all life on Earth.

I know that my Beloved Karl would approve of such a philosophical stance.