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Grieving through Walking the Journey of Life
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By Marilynn Vanderstaay

John 11:35 Jesus wept

Ecclesiastes 3:4 To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.

Grieving and the journey through grief and loss back to peace are issues not often addressed in conversation among friends, in classes or even from the pulpit. But grieving effectively, whether it be the loss of a loved one particularly a parent or a child, the loss of a business or an income, the loss of a community of friends due to a move, the loss of a family due to divorce or tragedy, the loss of a home due to divorce or even a fire, and the loss of a country due to war, immigration, and more… all need to be addressed cognitively and effectively to get through and back to peace.

In her book, Walking the Journey of Life: One Woman’s Courageous Walk Through Life, Grief, and Faith, London entrepreneur Judite Holder candidly shares how, not that, she overcame a life’s journey of extreme grief and sorrow due to growing up in war torn Rhodesia and subsequent extreme poverty, immigration first to Portugal and then Canada, and family issues and abandonment, betrayal and divorce, and more, and ultimately the loss of her 14 year old son Bruno in a violent car accident.

Through single parenting, her relationship with her daughter Claudia who now works in her businesses, and the symmetry in her marriage to husband Edwin Holder, Judite was able to regain her balance by starting four boutique businesses, getting involved in her work in organizations in the London community, and as a philanthropist.

But there was an undercurrent of grief and sadness she just could not get over. One afternoon she heard an interview with a woman who had gone on a long walk, a pilgrimage, the Camino, taken by hundreds of thousands of people over 1000 years located in Europe starting in France or Portugal ending up in Santiago de Compostela in Spain. The woman wrote in her book that the Camino, while carrying everything the walkers would need on their backs, would teach important lessons about life such as simplicity, compassion, courage, discipline, awareness, and love.

She also wrote the walk is a discipline in and of itself, about being fearless and making choices to become more self-aware, more productive and more focused, all things Judite was lacking in her life, and she was intrigued.

On Saturday May 19, 2012 Ed drove Judite to the Toronto airport where she met a few members of the group. On Monday the walkers naively began their 11-day journey. That evening she began writing her small journal in which she would write about each “tough” day.

“Wherever you have come from or wherever you are today, I am here to tell you, having dropped to the depths of hell and looked in the face of my deepest sorrows, that I have returned stronger, more determined, and better able to cope with the challenges in business and in life. That suffering has allowed me to stand in front of you and challenge you to find your Camino,” writes Judite about her experience.

Wanting to hold onto to the peace and happiness she felt in Camino, despite all the physical pain, when she returned, she refocused her life on the things that matter. She wrote personal encouraging notes to her granddaughters Maia and Katia which she included in the book’ She continues to write and speak publicly as she continues to process the Camino experience and what it did for her on many levels of her life, patience, sisterhood, simplicity, gratitude, tranquility.

She has learned grief is not something you get over, or get through, but rather unique and extremely personal. She continued to work through her grief with Bruno by rather than trying to rid herself of her hurts, but by thinking about how Bruno would want to be remembered and writing those thoughts and memories to him.

As for Judite and Ed and Claudia, they have learned that joy can live with grief. They did not forget Bruno, but no longer have to let sadness bleed into the joy of the present moment, something which Ed constantly encourages Judite.

Walking the Journey of Life is available on and at Razzle Dazzle, Judite Holder’s cupcake and cake shoppe, 319 Springbank Drive., 519-663-9973