Note: The podcast episode was recorded before my trip. I've included some notes below on what the experience was like.
The first time I heard the term "Father Wound" was from John Eldredge in his famous (and must read) book Wild at Heart. There's a very good chance that is where you learned of it as well.
To be honest, when I first hear the term I thought, "Nah, this can't be a thing." I was resistant to it. But, as I opened up to the possibility I quickly discovered a raw and unhealed area in my heart that needed to be addressed. It was my own father wound.
Scattering My Dad's Ashes
I've written and spoken in previous episodes about my dad's alcoholism and eventual death from it. He was cremated and I've held onto the ashes for over two years. I knew, immediately, that I wanted to do something special for him...for me, but I didn't have a clear idea of what that would be.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
I love this movie. If you haven't seen it, it's a must watch. I was moved by the film and inspired to have an adventure with my dad's ashes. That would have sounded really strange to write before going through his death, but death has a way of changing the way we see things, especially the death of a parent.
I initially wanted to do something really epic. Like the movie, I thought about going to Iceland, but realized I had been putting off the planning because of how much effort and cost was involved. Canada came to mind, but I don't think my dad would have appreciated that.
I decided on Washington state. It's another world compared to the east coast, and it was a part of the US I had never seen.
A Healing Journey
I took the trip alone and set off on a trail early in the morning to a remote location. It's hard to describe the mix of emotions I was feeling: amazement for the environment (see pictures), nervous about what I was going to experience.
I had a 3.5 mile hike to my destination and was hit several times with tears. I had to stop, say what needed to be said, and take a moment before moving on.
As I neared my destination, I was both excited for what I saw and also ready to "get it over with." I didn't want to let my dad go and it felt like that is exactly what I needed to do. That's also the thought that hit me and broke me down while I said another goodbye to my dad.
Not a bad view, dad.
I don't yet know if this will be the last of the grieving and healing process, but I do know that it helped me overcome and heal from some of the wounds in our relationship. There is something about the outdoors and solitude that allows a man to open his heart.
If you need to take a journey of some kind to get away and connect with your dad, with the wounds, with the pain, I certainly recommend doing so. You may be tempted to find reasons to put it off, but don't. As you heal your own heart, you'll have more to give to those around you and live closer to your true self.