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Good Grief: Embracing Transformation Beyond Mourning

May 10, 2024
Henry-Cameron Allen, CTAA, IHTCP
Papa Peregrine, LTC Founder

Grief reshapes us. It can arrive without warning, altering the entire landscape of our lives. As Peregrines, parents who have outlived our beloved children,
we understand the profound and unique nuances of this journey. Like the Peregrine falcon itself, we find that even after this kind of unconscionable, life-altering experience, we can still find the strength to soar and to rebuild ourSelves and our lives, sometimes radically.

My son Cameron, at just 11 years old, was diagnosed with malignant anaplastic astrocytoma, a high-grade brain tumor that rarely occurs in children. The cause is still unknown to medical science.
Cameron was sweet and full of life, and his diagnosis felt like the ground beneath me had collapsed.
Yet his spirit remained unshakable. When I questioned why or how this happened, he would shrug and say, "Nobody has an expiration date on the bottom of their foot, Papa." Those words became my guiding light, even as cancer turned my world upside down.

Navigating the Tsunamis
The grief journey, especially the initial waves of mourning, is like a tsunami to me—unpredictable and overwhelming. You, too, might feel lost, with emotions crashing from every angle, clocking you from behind, knocking the wind out of you. Yet amid this turmoil, somehow there's a spark of resilience—the part of us that knows we must keep going, even when it feels impossible. The waves might threaten to pull us under, but they can also cleanse us and guide us to a more peaceful place. It's rather like they teach you when whitewater rafting: if you get knocked out of the boat, you should lean back, put your feet up, and trust the current to carry you to calmer waters. The chances of survival are far greater when you trust yourself, trust that you can float, and trust the journey, even when your instinct says to grab onto something, anything, to keep your head above the wild water.

As Peregrines, patience must become our anchor. Grief has no timeline or linear pathway; each day brings its own unexpected roadblocks. As we move through turbulent emotions, we may find solace, or a a glimmer of it, in small rituals— building shrines, lighting candles, listening to particular songs, or visiting sacred places that hold memories of our children. All these have worked to help me navigate the triggers.

On the 10 year milestone of Cameron's passing, I took a 10 day road trip around Ireland. We never visited while he was here, but we had always dreamed of traveling there together. I felt him with me with every rainbow, every ruined castle, and every "thin place" - what the Irish call breathtaking places of majestic beauty... they say the veil between worlds is thinner in those places. I felt it viscerally, not only in Ireland, but in many places. I haven't stopped traveling since, seeking out the thin places wherever I can find them. I now live in one, a tiny remote village in Spain, nestled into the foothills of a beautiful sierra, and I feel him with me here. I want all of us to feel that feeling.

The Club Where We Belong
Though parental grief can feel like a solitary journey, (and in many ways it really is, especially for men) none of us has to walk this path alone. The Lost Travelers Club (LTC) offers a safe harbor, a place where we can be ourselves without fear of judgment. Here, we gather as a community of kindred spirits who understand the complexities of parental grief. Together we remember, laugh, cry, and honor our children. The bonds with other Peregrines are deep, familial, and rooted in a shared understanding that requires no explanation.

The Fellowship
The LTC also acknowledges the unique challenges that Peregrine fathers face. Men are often expected to be strong and stoic, which can make it difficult to express of even understand our unique brand of grief. Our community creates a supportive environment for fathers, including The LTC Peregrine DadCast on YouTube, allowing us to share our feelings publicly and find connection. By exploring the dimensions of grief together, and allowing ourselves to embrace our full range of emotions, we create a space where transformation can begin.

Transforming Grief into Purpose
After Cameron left, I struggled to find the support I needed. Most grief counselors couldn't empathize with the depth of parental loss, not having been through it themselves. This led me to complete my diploma and international certification in Grief, Bereavement & Survival Counseling. I wanted to become the kind of counselor that I needed during my own mourning phase. This is what "good grief" means to me —accepting what happened, acknowledging the pain authentically, then learning the skills to transform it into something profoundly meaningful.

At LTC, through retreats, workshops, and counseling - virtual and in person - we encourage one another to channel our grief into purpose, moving forward in memory and honor of our children. Together, we find ways to uplift their lives and stay connected with them, heart to heart.

The Journey Ahead
The Peregrine Path is long and often treacherous, but traveling alongside a community that "gets it," we will find the courage to live out our lives. As Lost Travelers, we carry on, safely exploring the many dimensions of grief, the legacy of our precious children knowing that their light is our North Star. This isn't just about survival—it's about reconnecting to joy amidst the sorrow, discovering new purpose, and transforming our brokenness into something beautiful.

Indeed, a number of LTC members have become our partners, having found their purpose in starting their own grief support foundations, podcasts, writing books, and joining our Council of Peregrines Advisory Committee. If you have a talent or skill, and think you might like to join the LTC's global team of volunteers, please reach out!

Join the Lost Travelers Club
If you're feeling lost on this journey, know that you're not alone. The Lost Travelers Club (www.LostTravelers.Club) invites you to join our global community. Membership is free, and the support is invaluable. Just show up, share your stories, learn life skills tools from experts, and connect with other Peregrines who are navigating this path. Together, we will embrace the unique transformation that comes with parental grief, at every stage, in partnership with our children, as we move forward into this new Selfhood.

If you need immediate support, remember that resources like LTC's grief counseling services, local support groups, and crisis hotlines are available. You don't have to walk this journey alone—help is always within reach.
`Surviving Parents Getting There Together...

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