Stages of Grief

Let me begin by saying that I am not in any way comparing my loss to those who have lost loved ones.

When we think of grief we automatically think of the loss of a loved one to death. However, we can experience grief anytime we have a change in our lives that was out of our control. Like many of you I have been dealing with the grief of having to postpone a dream that I had worked hard for but I am also dealing with a major change in the health of my hiking partner, which may prevent him from being able to experience this dream with me if I can make it happen in the future.


My shock was to wake on the eve of our departure date for the trail to my husband having a sudden medical condition that made it difficult and painful to walk. I was completely taken aback and could not wrap my head around what was happening. 


This is where I have spent the next few weeks. I refused to believe that this was a life-altering event. I was convinced we would find the cause and fix it and everything would be back to normal. Of course, this whole process was slowed by the fact that we had given up our insurance when I left my job to make the hike. Then in the depths of my denial about my husband’s health came the announcement from the ATC that hikers should postpone thru-hikes. This I met with denial as well. I didn’t believe it was necessary and didn’t believe it would last long and we would soon be on our way.


Anger is a very natural reaction but it is often a very “me” centered reaction. I was mad. Mad that all this was happening to me and at the same time I was aware of the fact that it was not my health that changed but his and that I should be grateful that I still had my health and that I had a wonderful husband who was still very supportive of my doing the hike even if it meant doing it without him. I knew lots of hikers were dealing with the same loss due to the recommendation to stay off the trail. Still, I was mad and that is one reason why I have waited so long to post because I did not want my anger to come through in the post.


For me this was a lot of what if’s. What if we go real slow and only do a couple miles a day. Would he have the ability to do it that way? What if I don’t use any of the shelters? What if I find a way to do it without going into any towns? What if I start later? You get the idea.


For me the depression was not only the losses of this year but also apprehension for the future. I have known many people who have had their lives change irreversibly, two of them being very close to me. So as I read statements like “the trail will still be there next year,” my first thought would be yes, but will I be? I could not help but think of all the things that could happen over the next year to once again keep me off the trail, maybe forever.


This is something I am working on but I am mostly there. I am past the depression but I falter back and forth between acceptance and bargaining. I have at least accepted the fact that I can be at peace with whatever happens. I can’t give up hope for June but now I have hope for next year. All of this to say if you have had to cancel or postpone a dream this year take breath and grieve. You will feel better for it.

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Comments 6

  • Just Bob : May 1st

    Your above statements echo my exact feelings and thoughts at this time as we are all still sitting, waiting and wondering what, if anything, will be happening in the near future.
    Doing 4, 6 and 8 mile daily walks are good, but cannot replace the ones we should all be doing now or in the future. Thanks for posting. Hopefully all will be well for you and yours.

    “Just Bob”

    • Julie Lemons : May 5th

      Thank you. I am settled into the idea that I will be waiting till next year in hope that things will improve and my husband will be able to accompany me and that is worth the wait.

  • Patti (Iceberg) : May 1st

    Don’t give up hope. You can still salvage a hike if you-re flexible, maybe consider a flip flop. SoBos don’t even start until June or July anyway. I know it isn’t what you dreamed, but trust me…any way you can hike will be the perfect way!

    • Julie Lemons : May 5th

      You are so right. I am looking forward to a year of hiking and backpacking just maybe closer to home.

  • Julie W. : May 5th

    This was so apropos. Not that anyone cares or will read this, but grief has become my best friend lately..reluctantly so. My 24 year old eldest son passed away very unexpectedly 11 months ago, and almost simultaneously, I received a life altering health diagnosis—rheumatoid disease, causing severe joint inflammation and pain. I can’t walk more than a few feet—I’m slumped over because my knees won’t straighten, my ankles, shoulders, wrists, fibers, all swell and pain. I have double grief—my best pal in the world, my flesh is gone…my health and ability to hike are gone…all those stages come and go, back and forth. It sucks. I pray to be able to get back on the trail so I can heal mentally and emotionally as well as physically. Good thoughts/prayers/etc. to all you who suffer as well.

    • Julie Lemons : May 5th

      So sorry for all your loss. I know the loss of your son can very heal but I hope your health will improve soon.


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