Walking the Sacred Path of Grief


I’m into my sixth week of my sabbatical.  I’ve traveled many miles, walked several labyrinths and have spent cherished time with family.  As my sabbatical began, I thought I would write a reflection on each labyrinth walk, sharing with you a little bit about that particular labyrinth.  I have not done that because something has happened with each walk that has been difficult to process.


Let me share a little backgound.  I had planned the perfect sabbatical schedule, all around the theme of Walking the Sacred Path.  I would be trained as a facilitator at Ghost Ranch, NM, the very first week of my sabbatical.  Perfect way to start.  School would have ended, my daughter will have graduated and I would go off for a week to be entrenched in all things labyrinths.

Well, the school calendar got pushed into my scheduled labyrinth experience due to so much ice and snow.  My daughter’s graduation would most likely land right in the middle of my scheduled time at Ghost Ranch.

I wasn’t sure what I would do.  My sabbatical emphasis really focused on me being trained as a labyrinth facilitator with Veriditas.  Veriditas scheduled a more brief experience in OKC at the University of Central Oklahoma.  If an adjustment had to be made, this was perfect.  You see, earlier this year, my nephew Trevor’s cancer returned for a third time.  This time was much different, the only treatment even possible would be a clinical trial.  Going to OKC for the training was a perfect plan B. Trevor’s silly and crazy Aunt could spend some time with him while he was in treatment.  Maybe I could help out some if he was not feeling so great. This would be good.   I rescheduled and bought my plane ticket.

Everything changed so quickly.  My sister called and said it looks like Trevor had a mini stroke.  He was in and out of the hospital quickly.  I texted him Thursday night to see how he was doing.  He said better but it was weird to not have full use and feeling on one side.  He sounded positive and good.  Friday my sister called and said they’ve rushed him to the hospital,  more strokes and seizures.  I bought a one way plane ticket, as did my sister Debbie and my brother Bob.  My sister Rho and her daughter loaded the car and drove in.  All of us came in.

We stayed positive, but after a couple of days it looked like Trevor would not regain consciousness and they put him on palliative care.  As we sat in the ICU waiting room, I remembered the labyrinth I was to come back in May to be trained on.  I wanted to walk it.  I shared with my brother in law, Tom, what I was going to do.  He said he wanted me to join him and he wanted the whole family to go.  And so we did.  We all went, the Duhons, my sisters,  brother as well as Tom’s sister and brother.  I did my best to explain what we were doing and how walking the labyrinth could be a place of prayer and healing.  C650FB32-E9B1-4D8F-A4B2-C70261432281I returned home on Thursday.  Trevor passed away the following Friday.

From that point on it’s as if life just took off.  My daughter had a lead role in her high schools spring musical with opening night being that Friday night.  Trevor loved loved loved broadway musicals.  As much pain as we were in, he would want nothing more than for Allison to get on stage opening night and kill it.  She did!  The next two weeks were filled with her 18th birthday and the second weekend of her show.  We then made the road trip to OKC for Trevor’s celebration of life service.  We came home on in time for Good Friday services followed by Easter and before we knew it, Allison was graduating.

Boom, my sabbatical began.

Every labyrinth walk has brought up Trevor.  So much can happen when you walk a labyrinth.  Most of the time what rises up within you doesn’t occur every time, unless it’s grief.  With each walk I kept tucking the feelings of grief that arose within me, away.

In my 6 weeks on sabbatical I’ve walked 9 different labyrinths.  Many of them several times.


Danville KY


Frankfort KY


Santa Fe NM


Ghost Ranch NM


Purple Adobe Lavendar Farm, NM


Center For Action and Contemplation, Albuquerque, NM


New Life Presbyterian Church, Albuquerque, NM


Louisville Presbyterian Seminary


Saint Stephens Presbyterian Church, Fort Worth, TX


Big Roots Lavendar Farm, Hawesville, KY

At each and every walk un attended to grief has risen from within.  I know this happens.  I’ve counseled many in congregations I have served about caring for and attending to their grief.  What has occurred to me, is that every time I’ve lost someone one I deeply love, my dad, my mom and my nephew,  big life events or activities immediately followed.  Bill and I were married two weeks after my dad died.  My family left for a 9 day trip out west to OK and NM just a couple of days after my mom died.  School plays, 18th birthdays and graduations happened just days and weeks after Trevor’s death.  With all three, I have not taken the time to experience their loss, be it 20 years ago, 2 years ago or 3 months ago.

Walking through grief is a necessary path to walk if healing and wholeness is to be experienced.  It hurts.  There are tears we experience so unexpectedly.  We long for one more laugh.  One more hug.  One more meal around the family table.

To call something sacred is to call attention to the presence of the Holy in our experiences of life.  Grief is a sacred path to walk.  We don’t walk it alone.  In our tears, pain and loss, God walks with us.  I have felt the presence of God in my labyrinth walks in ways I have never felt before.  I have literally felt being lifted up and held.

As I said in an earlier blog, Julien Norwich said “all things will be well.”  I know now that I need to no longer push away the grief and loss I have felt, with Trevor, with my mom and with my dad.

While Trevor was in ICU, and I held his hands, I had this deep profound feeling that my dad and mom were welcoming Trevor, as he joined them in the full and loving presence of God.  A reunion that fills me with joy.

I miss all three of them in ways I never realized I could.  I will continue to walk this path, this sacred path of grief.  With each turn and twist, I will lean in the the care of the Holy who walks it with me.  In this moment, I feel relief.  I know grief is like a wave of an ocean that can come quick.  I’m not scared.

“You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now”

This hymn was played at Trevor’s celebration of  life.  It has been a guide on almost all of my labyrinths  walks this summer.

I miss this fun and crazy guy.  I hope he realized he was my hero.  His strength, courage, faith and the many ways he shared joy with others inspired me.


God will guide me through this grief.

My prayers for you is that you too feel the guidance of God, God’s sovereign hand guiding you through what ever you might be walking though; what ever challenge, pain, or loss you might be be experiencing, may you feel God near.

We walk this sacred path together.

peace and blessings,


Author: revmickimchugh

I'm a wife, a mom, a pastor taking an intentional journey to hear God more clearly and follow more closely.

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