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When a person steps back from life to regain strength while suffering grief, it’s usually to restore one’s footing or to find a familiar normal. When someone in your life is missing or has died, life changes. If a situation cannot recover in a lifetime, or if a person suffers one loss after another in a short period, life changes forever. Support systems can be fragile or may be absent, so it seems natural to move into oneself. It helps to withdraw, to seek a safe place away from voices who say ‘don’t worry, be happy.’ It’s natural to want to hide one’s head.

Several years ago, I found a turtle on the side of the road. Its cracked, hard shell showed a remarkable pattern of a long life.  No doubt, a vehicle had hit it. Every day I walked to the bottom of our lane to get the mail and while there, I checked on Franklin—I’d named him after the turtle in the children’s storybooks.

Because a narrow but robust stream ran under a bridge on our lane, I assumed Franklin lived there. When he grew stronger, I consistently steered him toward the water. At first, he resisted my nudging and then finally put out one foot and then the other one from the gravelly side of the road to the long grass, and onto the soft mud on the banks of the creek.  One day I came down for the mail and Franklin was gone.

I liken this experience to opportunities to care for one another. Sometimes, it’s a neighbour, or the legion, or the church, or a family member. Sometimes it is not any of those. A person who tumbles out of the ordinary into ongoing change benefits from someone helping him or her put one foot in front of the other, to be gently steered back to solid ground, assisted to trust little steps through changes to a new normal.

While reading this, did someone come to your mind that you’ve helped to find solid ground,, walked beside, nudged until new confidence is born? Perhaps jotting a few notes will bring some good memories.