I wake up feeling the hurricane of unbearable loss and grief. I want to push it away because tears should not fall eighteen years later, but they do. As I toss in my bed, hoping this day will not come again, I see the clock hit 7:43 am. I turn over as I hear the hollow sounds of my German Shepherd walking toward my bed. I turn to see her sweet face encouraging me to rise. The clock now reads 9:10 am. I lie in bed, staring at the ceiling, hoping that I’m still dreaming, but I am not. One thing I know for sure: I can’t think my way out of this heaviness… I have to act my way out. So, I sit up, place my feet on the old hardwood floors and lean forward.

As I slowly grab the leash, Haven starts to stretch knowing that her walk is close at hand. I’m afraid to open the door to the outside world, to expose my raw wounded soul to a world that is abandoned, and which does not seem to have any place for old grief. As I walk toward the park, it is overcast and strangely quiet this Monday morning. My motivation is weak as I feel the slight pull from the leash. When I approach the park, I see the grass is being mowed. The smell is fresh and renewed. It is here in nature that I find the bravery to accept that grief is a journey that will never end. I look up at the tall, two-hundred-year-old trees swaying in the wind. Closing my eyes, I feel the wind on my face. I chuckle, knowing the fact that you can feel something without seeing it. It somehow opens my heart to the mysteries of life. This place, in this nature, is where I find peace. It is where I find him. I try to put my arms around this deep misunderstanding of life and death because it is somehow self-evident that all things in nature live and die. It is the cycle of life that we humans tend to avoid or acknowledge only after it is too late, and the moment has passed.

I toss the ball to a happy dog walking through the yet un-mowed area, eating tall grass, and smelling all types of natural happenings. My dog does not know it, but she is awakening me, teaching me to walk and act my way through this day. I suddenly look up and the wind blows through my hair. I raise my arms to the cloudy sky and ask for what I want. I don’t ask for my grief to leave me, I ask for the guidance and the resources to learn to live and carry my grief well. I ask for forgiveness. I ask for courage. I ask for strength.

I want to push away the unimaginable, but instead, I lean into it, knowing that all rebirths come with a little labor and pain. I turn my heart toward the center of the hurricane, knowing this grief will ease but never leave me. The center of this hurricane, of this grief, calms my soul once again. The next steps toward the unknown, I feel fear, not knowing what the future holds. As I walk home, passing neighbors, I hide my grief and converse. Finally, home, I settle into my meditation spot in front of the fireplace, cross my legs and pray. As my eyes open, I take note of all these material items that make my home a home. I realize I don’t need them anymore to feel complete.

The morning clouds are lifting, making way to the beautiful blue skies peeking through to remind me once again that the heaviness will lift again too. It is at this moment that a tear falls, a goodbye is whispered and the only words that come are, “I’ll see you soon. It is only a matter of time.” I hate to see May 7 come and I hate to see it leave –all the while knowing that the worn path will be walked again in an effort to prove that life is short, fragile and has an expiration date for all of us. So, we all must live with bold intentions.

Yet, this year seems different. This year, I know what I have to do. I hear the distant call of change. I pray for the resources I need to go on in my life while carrying my grief with me every step of the way, but now celebrating the legacy, and memories that are now forming the person I’ve longed to be.


  • Kimberly C. Paul

    End of Life Speaker, Author & Host of Death by Design Podcast

    Kimberly left her job at a hospice in December 2016, cashed in her retirement and created a new platform that invites everyone around the table to have open conversations about death and dying. She has created a podcast series, Death by Design, which hosts industry leaders in medicine as well as artists, designers, caregivers and authors who are reclaiming their voice around their own experiences with death and dying. Each conversation is meant to inspire listeners to engage in difficult conversations around their own deaths, to actively make decisions about how and where they want to die and begin to change the taboo subject of death and dying into the ultimate gift of connection with family and friends. Death by Design Podcast is in its 2nd season and continues to normalize difficult conversations, discover ordinary individuals making extraordinary differences in their local communities and highlight people who are developing new ways to assist the Baby Boomers as they design their own end of life. Since her book, Bridging the Gap, was published on April 13th, 2018, Kimberly is on to her next adventure as she tours the United States to speak to people. But she is doing it a little differently than anyone expected. In June 2018, Kimberly bought an RV, downsized her belongings and hit the road with her German Shephard, Haven.  Kimberly has named her adventure the “Live Well Die Well Tour” because, she says, “The more I talk about death, the more boldly I feel I’m living life to the fullest.” TedX Talk Speaker https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QcauNT3x2k8 Death by Design Podcast http://www.deathbydesign.com/podcast/ Bridging The Gap, Life Lessons from the Dying http://www.deathbydesign.com/buy-bridging-the-gap-by-kimberly-c-paul/ Live Well Die Well Tour www.livewelldiewelltour.com   You can get into touch with Kimberly to schedule an event in your community, at your church or for a private book readings in your home as she travels throughout the United States on her Live Well Die Well tour at [email protected].