Strong Footing Again

Author: Laurie Copmann

Life's encounters, both positive or painful, can affect our outlook, challenge our strength and shape how we respond to subsequent events. We pray to find hope in times of sadness. We may have to dig deep within ourselves to find light in so much darkness. Determination kicks in, and helps us keep trudging forward, so we can carry our emotional burdens.

Machu Picchu

When we are overcome with sadness or grief, it can be difficult to continue the daily climb. There are moments when it feels as if all hope is gone. How then, do we move through the grief? Losing a loved one or a friend, facing a debilitating disease, experiencing a divorce or even an unexpected job change can tax even the strongest hearts and minds. The path sometimes can feel too steep and difficult to travel. We can feel as if we’re losing our footing.

Almost 20 years ago, I lost my own footing. Being a strong person, I always believed I could handle whatever was thrown my way. I have learned to never assume. I was brought to my knees, facing a trial of loss that was numbing. The rains came and turned my path to mud, making it difficult to keep going. I felt lost and alone.

I knew something had to change when I was asked to sing in the church choir one Sunday. While singing, I began to cry, tears streaming down my face uncontrollably. I felt bad for the singers around me; they witnessed my lack of self-control. I had no tissues and no idea what the congregation thought of the one lone chorister having an emotional meltdown. I kept hoping they thought it was the moving melody that brought me to tears. That Sunday was a turning point for me. I knew I had to find hope; I’d likely have to search hard, but I just had to find it. I couldn’t go on like I was any longer.

A family’s foundation of love and support helps its members to feel secure and find strong footing to take on life’s twists and turns. When we lose someone we love, that security can crumble right beneath us. We can be left feeling lost and vulnerable.

I questioned whether I would ever find my footing and be able to build a new foundation for my family after my loss. It surely would never look or feel the same as it had previously. My family did build that new foundation, and as we did, it oftentimes felt like I was wearing concrete shoes while climbing a steep mountain path.

During that time of great pain, I felt inspired to put pencil to paper and write. I poured my heart out in the lines of a story that resembled my loss. I wrote a children’s book about a family tree that loses a branch in a terrible storm. When the wind and rain have subsided, the family visits their tree. They are saddened to find the broken branch lying beneath it. Together, they decide to build a swing out of the branch as a way to keep it as part of the family tree and their story.

Writing the book helped my heart find healing. The concrete shoes came off, and it became a little easier to travel the steep path of grief. I no longer cried all the time. The grief didn’t go away, but I found it easier to manage.

I realized that people and life don’t stay the same forever. Change and loss are inevitable. I also realized that my life had a new purpose. Sharing the simple story about a family tree offered others hope and inspiration, making it a little easier to travel their own path.

So, when life takes new twists and turns, I find the swing made from my own lost branch. Sitting on my swing, I think of those I still love who have left a lasting legacy, or I make future plans when my life needs direction.

Even on our steepest paths, there is hope and healing to be had. Our future can have purpose again. I pray each of you finds hope and promise in your daily lives and can, in time, build a swing from your own lost branch. 

From the pen of…
Laurie Copmann, MS, has degree in Administration and Counseling. As a school principal, she encourages children to be confident individuals and excellent citizens and to strive for high academic achievement. She writes stories to inspire them to reach their potential, with the belief that anything is possible.