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A Hero’s Journey Begins

“The usual hero adventure begins with someone from whom something has been taken, or who feels there is something lacking in the normal experience available or permitted to the members of society. The person then takes off on a series of adventures beyond the ordinary, either to recover what has been lost or to discover some life-giving elixir. It’s usually a cycle, a coming and a returning.”

Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces

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Part of the human condition is dealing with loss – the loss of love, people, places, things, and sometimes our sense of safety or sanity. Once we have suffered such a loss, it is our task to reclaim it. Sometimes this is possible and other times we must settle for a replacement such as grief or a perpetual feeling of emptiness. In the film “Rabbit Hole” two mothers discuss the loss of a child. The younger asks the older “Does it (the grief) ever go away?”

***

“I don’t think it does… it changes though. I don’t know, the weight of it I guess. At some point it becomes bearable. It turns into something you can crawl out from under and you can carry it around like a brick in your pocket and you even forget it for awhile, but then you reach in for whatever reason and there it is – oh right, that. It can be awful, but not all the time. It’s kind of, not that you like it exactly, but that’s what you’ve got instead of your son and so you carry it around.”

When we think of a hero, we may not think of a mother who has lost a child. But there are many of us heroes making this heroic and painful journey through grief. To get through it, we need everything any other hero requires – courage, faith, and comrades to help us in those most difficult moments.

A hero’s journey begins when something precious comes to an end.

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