Wednesday, September 1, 2010

THE Valley ....

.... you know the one. I think that most people, even those who are "non-religious", are familiar with its name.

It's the big-daddy of them all.
The Valley of the Shadow of Death.
It's mentioned in the Bible and has been referenced in countless books, movies, TV shows, etc.

It's been on my mind a lot lately.
You see, I never really knew what it was .... "before".
I'd read about it, even memorized the 23rd Psalm, where it's located.
But had never really given it much thought ..... beyond what I thought it meant.
Of course I thought I knew what it was .... but then.... I thought I knew a lot of things "before".

I used to think it was a proverbial valley that one went through on the way to one's own death.

But now I think that's not quite it.

I think it's the valley that I was plunged into in the early morning hours of December 18, 2007.
It's the valley that I laid in, crawled through, walked in .... or just sat in for 2 years.
It was hell on earth.
And it's not something that I like to think about now. Even as I write this my stomach is hurting and my heart is racing.
It was a very dark, deep and cold valley.
There really aren't words to describe the horror of this place.
And for the longest time I could see no way out of it.

But I continued to crawl.
Some days.
Some days I just sat there and sobbed.
Other days I went backwards, trying to see if I could leave the way I had entered.
There's no back door out of this valley.
You can only go forward .... or not.

If you're reading this then you've probably been, or most likely are, in this valley.
We all take different amounts of time to get through it.
There's no right way.
There's no guide book.
It's just guts and instinct.

I can now say that I am out of this horrible valley .... though I can turn around and see that it's still very close behind me.
Some days I slip back to the edge of it.
But those days are fewer now.

I don't feel special for having made it out of this valley.
I don't feel courageous or victorious.
I know that I am stronger now because I walked through it.
But I'm also humbler.
And very, very grateful ....
.... that I made it out.

And I'm more than thankful .... that when I look at that valley now .... I am looking behind me.

And I'm wishing every ounce of strength I have onto those who are in it.
I am "willing" them to come out.
In their own time.
At their own pace.
I am pulling for them.
Just to make it out.

And I hope, that as I greet some of them on their way out, they will join me in "willing" others out.
Because, unfortunately, there's a never-ending line of people walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.
And we all need each other.
We need to share our will and our strength and our encouragement.... and our stories.
Because that's all we can do.

But it's something.


  1. Janine, your words REALLY reached me with this post, thank you. Even if you're not religious, it's a case of having faith in yourself to get out of this godforsaken place.

  2. Your words have touched me too.I fell into this valley a year ago tomorrow. I am still in it and very slowly moving thru it, but must admit I am scared to come out of it too. Thru the help of others like me and you we do need each other for encouragement and support and to share our stories....Thank you.

  3. Janine, this blog brought me to tears. I've been in the valley for 6 months and feeling terribly alone. Your words were encouraging and brought me hope knowing that you and others have and are climbing out. I hope I can mirror your bravery. Thank you!

  4. There are rainbows & sunshine on the other side. Just waiting for you
    A Vietnam Vet

  5. Janine, AWESOME post, we can only survive this darkness through great strength. It helps with reassurance from others that we're not alone, and we find our strength through each other. This always seems to come along at times we need it the most, thank you for sharing.

  6. This is one of the best widow blog posts EVER!! Thank you so much for this one! And yes, we will all walk thru this valley together~~~

  7. I think this is one of the best blogs also. Could relate with everything. 16 months for me, and I am still struggling. I don't know how much further I have to go, but this sure puts it in perspective. Thank you so much.

  8. My first visit to this site...thank you for the post. It hit home but In a positive way. I'll be hanging around for a while if that's ok? Been in the valley since nov, 2008 but I'm starting to see my way out.

  9. Your description is amazing. It's such a relief to know it's possible to get out someday, and that we're not venturing through it alone. Thank you, Janine.

  10. I have no other words for this post other than...AMAZING!!!!

  11. What an accurate metaphor for this hellish journey. I am at 6 months and feel very lost in the dark of the valley.
    I love the image of willing others out and I look forward to joining you on the other side of the valley to do so.

  12. "I don't feel special for having made it out of this valley.
    I don't feel courageous or victorious.
    I know that I am stronger now because I walked through it.
    But I'm also humbler.
    And very, very grateful ....
    .... that I made it out"
    Particularly liked this part...I've had people use the word "Amazing" to describe how they feel I've dealt with things over the last year. I'm so tired for hearing the word. It's not accurate, it's not how I feel, I just keep going because I have no other choice. Waiting for someday to be the day I feel like most of it is behind me. Thank you for this post.

  13. I love this post. (I love every post I read on this blog, actually.) I don't know where I am in this awful valley, except that I'm not back where I started in November 2009. I am grateful for the strength being sent to me from all those who have made it out and I look forward to the day where I can send my strength to others.

  14. Thank you Janine. That was so very beautiful! Only those who have walked through that valley can ever know the pain. It's been one year since I suddenly lost my husband and I'm starting to feel like I'm finally climbing out of the valley. I really laughed the other day and was so amazed at myself. I realized I'm still in there, somewhere! A little wiser but so different. I don't have any close widow friends that really understand. Thank you for the blogs, it helps to be understood. I hope to help others someday.