A donation to the forum removes ads for you, and supports Ivar in his work running it

Advertisement

See the full Camino Forum Store here with many more camino products.

Death and Loss on the Camino

Tamsin Grainger

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés
De la plata
Do any of you know if someone has done a project about death and the camino? I have just written a book about death and loss in my own subject area (published 2020) and as a very keen (and quite experienced) peregrina, I have been thinking about connecting my two interests. I would be grateful for any thoughts or info you have.
 

nycwalking

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Ourense to Santiago (2019), CF: (2014, 2004, 2002, 2001). On to Fisterra, (2002, 4, 14).
How about researching and writing on the number of pilgrim memorials along the way.

For instance there’s a totem dedicated to a pilgrim who died in the albergue at St. Nicolas de Flue in Ponferrada.

The totem is in the courtyard.

And the bicycle memorial near El Acebo for another pilgrim, a cyclist, who was hit by a car.

Good writing to you.
 

SEB2

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF (2015), CP (2016), part of Vasco (2019)
Do any of you know if someone has done a project about death and the camino? I have just written a book about death and loss in my own subject area (published 2020) and as a very keen (and quite experienced) peregrina, I have been thinking about connecting my two interests. I would be grateful for any thoughts or info you have.
I t has taken a long time for me to return to the forum but this is a strange coincidence - explanation later. The subject you raise is an important one and one close to my heart Tamsin. I recall one book written by an Irish (?) priest who walked the way after the death of his brother., other members will no doubt remember the details.
The coincidence is that by accident I just came across this website www. sophieswalk.co.uk set up by a family whose daughter took her own life. One - or both - subsequently walked from SJPdP to SdC. Through the sale of a calendar - Doors of the Camino - they are raising money for the charity Papyrus in the UK which works to support young people at risk of taking their own lives. I have no connection with the charity or the family but felt this might be something that forum members might be interested in and which, yet again highlights the link between grieving, walking & healing.
 

Tamsin Grainger

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés
De la plata
I t has taken a long time for me to return to the forum but this is a strange coincidence - explanation later. The subject you raise is an important one and one close to my heart Tamsin. I recall one book written by an Irish (?) priest who walked the way after the death of his brother., other members will no doubt remember the details.
The coincidence is that by accident I just came across this website www. sophieswalk.co.uk set up by a family whose daughter took her own life. One - or both - subsequently walked from SJPdP to SdC. Through the sale of a calendar - Doors of the Camino - they are raising money for the charity Papyrus in the UK which works to support young people at risk of taking their own lives. I have no connection with the charity or the family but felt this might be something that forum members might be interested in and which, yet again highlights the link between grieving, walking & healing.
Thank you very much for your comment. Very helpful and, yes, what à coïncidence.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
I don't know of anyone who has done that, Tamsin.
But there are plenty of stories of people walking to heal from loss and grief - as well as the other side of the coin, people who have died along the way. And sometimes there are posts of family members who come to the camino to mourn their loss - these family members have a whole different relationship to this than the rest of us do. And then there is the loss from aging that long-term pilgrims face when it is no longer possible to walk.

I am sure if you solicited for stories here, you would surely have no shortage. This week alone there are sad threads about deaths on both ends of the Camino Frances, in Roncesvalles and Finisterre.
All blessings on this. It would be a valuable offering to all of us...
 
Camino(s) past & future
"Camino from 2013 to 2019" paused for now...
 

hel&scott

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 &18 Seville - Finesterre, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
When Scott first asked me to scatter his ashes at Finisterre he was fit and active and we had our life stretched out before us, just like the many kms we had just walked to get there. I thought it was a romantic fancy, surprisingly for such a practical man he was like that.

When he reminded me of my promise a few years later he was dealing with the ravages of cancer and it was one of the few times he would talk about what would happen after he died. Perhaps he thought rewalking our favourite Camino would help me with my grief. It didn't. Our Camino adventures had always been a source of joy, an indulgence where we got to go off and leave the crazy world behind and just focus on putting one step ahead of another.

Last year when I trudged ahead weighed down by my many burdens and dealing with an increasing list of injuries as I slowly broke down, it wasn't grief that I was dealing with as much as my own stubornness. But at the end of the day when we stopped, there was time for a beer and to talk with my daughter about the section ahead and what Scott thought of it. The camino became a journey of memories, often painful, but there was laughter too, grateful that I was walking in the footsteps of happier times.

Death isn't something we talk about and I've never met anyone on the Camino who discussed it. Blisters yes, the weight of your pack, how good/bad the markings are, these are all topics we obsess about while on the way. The other stuff is left for inner contemplation.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
@hel&scott , I’ve accused you of being a Tinker before. Now I know you have a true heart.
That was beautiful elegy.
My old guys must be feeling bothered tonight. I burned some herb and I spilt some wine for Scott and I spilt some wine for you too.
May you find healing and joy. Life is the greatest gift we are given. Our roads, short or long, are ours to walk, upright, proud and with our faces to the rain. All the rest is just stuff
 
Last edited:

Tamsin Grainger

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés
De la plata
I don't know of anyone who has done that, Tamsin.
But there are plenty of stories of people walking to heal from loss and grief - as well as the other side of the coin, people who have died along the way. And sometimes there are posts of family members who come to the camino to mourn their loss - these family members have a whole different relationship to this than the rest of us do. And then there is the loss from aging that long-term pilgrims face when it is no longer possible to walk.

I am sure if you solicited for stories here, you would surely have no shortage. This week alone there are sad threads about deaths on both ends of the Camino Frances, in Roncesvalles and Finisterre.
All blessings on this. It would be a valuable offering to all of us...
Thank you
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2005,2008,2010,2015.camino Portuguese 2007 .primativo2012.camino Norte 2009.sjpdp to finisterre and muxia 2007. Le Puy to jpdp 2006. Via francigena vercelli to Lucca 2014. Lucca to Rome 2016.
I t has taken a long time for me to return to the forum but this is a strange coincidence - explanation later. The subject you raise is an important one and one close to my heart Tamsin. I recall one book written by an Irish (?) priest who walked the way after the death of his brother., other members will no doubt remember the details.
The coincidence is that by accident I just came across this website www. sophieswalk.co.uk set up by a family whose daughter took her own life. One - or both - subsequently walked from SJPdP to SdC. Through the sale of a calendar - Doors of the Camino - they are raising money for the charity Papyrus in the UK which works to support young people at risk of taking their own lives. I have no connection with the charity or the family but felt this might be something that forum members might be interested in and which, yet again highlights the link between grieving, walking & healing.
So good to see you back again Seb

And you are so right re the link between walking, healing and grieving...for any kind of loss
My brother in law in Ireland cycles with a group,...they wear orange t shirts but I've Forgotton the name....later I will find out and post here.
They do a lot of fundraising and go into schools to take to children/ young people about suicide and when and where to ask for help
There's also a place called Pieta house in Ireland ....a residential centre where people at risk of suicide can get help ...hope to post more later
Annette
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2005,2008,2010,2015.camino Portuguese 2007 .primativo2012.camino Norte 2009.sjpdp to finisterre and muxia 2007. Le Puy to jpdp 2006. Via francigena vercelli to Lucca 2014. Lucca to Rome 2016.
As promised in post 13
If this is not relevant to the thread then the moderators can delete it
These organisations are based in Ireland image.pngimage.png
 

Tamsin Grainger

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés
De la plata
So good to see you back again Seb

And you are so right re the link between walking, healing and grieving...for any kind of loss
My brother in law in Ireland cycles with a group,...they wear orange t shirts but I've Forgotton the name....later I will find out and post here.
They do a lot of fundraising and go into schools to take to children/ young people about suicide and when and where to ask for help
There's also a place called Pieta house in Ireland ....a residential centre where people at risk of suicide can get help ...hope to post more later
Annette
Thank you very much for your contribution
 

Tamsin Grainger

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés
De la plata
How about researching and writing on the number of pilgrim memorials along the way.

For instance there’s a totem dedicated to a pilgrim who died in the albergue at St. Nicolas de Flue in Ponferrada.

The totem is in the courtyard.

And the bicycle memorial near El Acebo for another pilgrim, a cyclist, who was hit by a car.

Good writing to you.
Yes thankyou, great ideas
 

Tamsin Grainger

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés
De la plata
I don't know of anyone who has done that, Tamsin.
But there are plenty of stories of people walking to heal from loss and grief - as well as the other side of the coin, people who have died along the way. And sometimes there are posts of family members who come to the camino to mourn their loss - these family members have a whole different relationship to this than the rest of us do. And then there is the loss from aging that long-term pilgrims face when it is no longer possible to walk.

I am sure if you solicited for stories here, you would surely have no shortage. This week alone there are sad threads about deaths on both ends of the Camino Frances, in Roncesvalles and Finisterre.
All blessings on this. It would be a valuable offering to all of us...
Thank you very much for taking the time to reply and for your encouragement
 

Tamsin Grainger

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés
De la plata
When Scott first asked me to scatter his ashes at Finisterre he was fit and active and we had our life stretched out before us, just like the many kms we had just walked to get there. I thought it was a romantic fancy, surprisingly for such a practical man he was like that.

When he reminded me of my promise a few years later he was dealing with the ravages of cancer and it was one of the few times he would talk about what would happen after he died. Perhaps he thought rewalking our favourite Camino would help me with my grief. It didn't. Our Camino adventures had always been a source of joy, an indulgence where we got to go off and leave the crazy world behind and just focus on putting one step ahead of another.

Last year when I trudged ahead weighed down by my many burdens and dealing with an increasing list of injuries as I slowly broke down, it wasn't grief that I was dealing with as much as my own stubornness. But at the end of the day when we stopped, there was time for a beer and to talk with my daughter about the section ahead and what Scott thought of it. The camino became a journey of memories, often painful, but there was laughter too, grateful that I was walking in the footsteps of happier times.

Death isn't something we talk about and I've never met anyone on the Camino who discussed it. Blisters yes, the weight of your pack, how good/bad the markings are, these are all topics we obsess about while on the way. The other stuff is left for inner contemplation.
Thank you for sharing your memories. You have obviously been through such a lot and I salute you for the strength you have found.

For me, the Camino was about death even before I started the first one, and has continued to be so - not in a morbid way but as an opportunity to fulfil a dream before it is too late and so much more.

I really appreciate your taking time to write
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2005,2008,2010,2015.camino Portuguese 2007 .primativo2012.camino Norte 2009.sjpdp to finisterre and muxia 2007. Le Puy to jpdp 2006. Via francigena vercelli to Lucca 2014. Lucca to Rome 2016.
Hi I am unsure what this is referring to. Is Irish stuff not allowed?
Hi Tamsin,
Of course it is
Aren't we everywhere!!
Perhaps my wording was wrong but in my initial post no 13 I was referring to my brother in law cycling for one of the organisations mentioned .and promised further information ...also I had mentioned Pieta house so put that info on as well
I am sure that there are many similar organisations in the UK and indeed all over the world
All the best
Annette
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Tamsin, I don't know if this is relevant, but the Forum lost a much loved member this week. He posted before he left saying he hoped he'd catch up with others of us as he walked up the hill out of SJPP. And off he went, thinking he had a whole camino ahead of him.

Buen camino, and take care all. If the camino teaches us anything, it's this: live today wholeheartedly, as if it is your last day here, because it could be. For any of us.
 

nycwalking

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Ourense to Santiago (2019), CF: (2014, 2004, 2002, 2001). On to Fisterra, (2002, 4, 14).
Tamsin, I don't know if this is relevant, but the Forum lost a much loved member this week. He posted before he left saying he hoped he'd catch up with others of us as he walked up the hill out of SJPP. And off he went, thinking he had a whole camino ahead of him.

Buen camino, and take care all. If the camino teaches us anything, it's this: live today wholeheartedly, as if it is your last day here, because it could be. For any of us.
And, that’s what’s getting me.

The immediacy of death.

All he did was walk up a hill.

Again, may he rest in power.
 

chinacat

Veteran Member
Do any of you know if someone has done a project about death and the camino? I have just written a book about death and loss in my own subject area (published 2020) and as a very keen (and quite experienced) peregrina, I have been thinking about connecting my two interests. I would be grateful for any thoughts or info you have.

Have you come across “The Field of the Star” by Nicholas Luard?
Or “Family Life” by Elisabeth Luard? (she of cookery book fame.)

They each wrote about the death of their daughter.

Nicholas Luard walked the CF, in stages, over time, beginning whilst his daughter was ill and completing it after she had died.
 

Chizuru

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2018)
I have just read a book called 'Motherling', by Jen Hutchison, who walked the Camino after her son died and left parts of his ashes in spots where she felt his spirit tell her were the right spots. She was looking to finish in Santiago and was searching for a place put the second last packet when she felt a very strong presence of her son saying that inside the cathedral was not the right place but in Finisterra, so she went to Finisterra which she hadn't intended to do. She carries the last packet with her on all walks now so that her son can continue to adventure!
 

Jim

Member
Camino(s) past & future
2006- Camino Portuguese
2008- Camino Frances
2009- Sanabres extension of the VDLP
2010- Camino Frances
2011- Camino Potuguese
2014- Camino Frances
2017- Camino Finisterre
Tamsin-- I am a 7-time veteran of the camino and have run into many people walking because of a loss they experienced-- usually a spouse or a very close family member, but also for a friend. I've shared meals with pilgrims who would tell me about their loved one who passed away during dinner. And also sharing time on the trail or at a place of lodging when these things were mentioned. It's interesting to me since my first camino was done for a brother who disappeared, never again to be found or heard from. His disappearance occurred when he was an 8th grade student (that was over 50 years ago), a victim of an abduction from what could be reconstructed about the events that day. I thought the camino would have been a one time thing, but here I am planning an 8th walk this coming spring.
 

Tamsin Grainger

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés
De la plata
Tamsin, I don't know if this is relevant, but the Forum lost a much loved member this week. He posted before he left saying he hoped he'd catch up with others of us as he walked up the hill out of SJPP. And off he went, thinking he had a whole camino ahead of him.

Buen camino, and take care all. If the camino teaches us anything, it's this: live today wholeheartedly, as if it is your last day here, because it could be. For any of us.
Yes, thanks, I saw this and left a reply myself.

It is your sentiment exactly which got me to my first Camino. I read too many accounts of people on their death beds saying 'it' came sooner than expected and they didn't have time for what they wanted to do. So, off I went!
 

Tamsin Grainger

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés
De la plata
Tamsin-- I am a 7-time veteran of the camino and have run into many people walking because of a loss they experienced-- usually a spouse or a very close family member, but also for a friend. I've shared meals with pilgrims who would tell me about their loved one who passed away during dinner. And also sharing time on the trail or at a place of lodging when these things were mentioned. It's interesting to me since my first camino was done for a brother who disappeared, never again to be found or heard from. His disappearance occurred when he was an 8th grade student (that was over 50 years ago), a victim of an abduction from what could be reconstructed about the events that day. I thought the camino would have been a one time thing, but here I am planning an 8th walk this coming spring.
Thank you for your message. I can well imagine folk sharing the types of stories you refer to in the first part of your message. Walking side by side with a stranger can be exactly the right circumstances for such an exchange.

I also thank you for your personal story. I do not know what it would be like to lose my brother that way, but I imagine that the Camino would be one place I would want to be to process such a serious event. In my experience, the sadness never goes away, I just get used to living with it. Perhaps the experiences on the Way have helped you acclimatise to yours. Best wishes
 

Tamsin Grainger

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés
De la plata
Have you come across “The Field of the Star” by Nicholas Luard?
Or “Family Life” by Elisabeth Luard? (she of cookery book fame.)

They each wrote about the death of their daughter.

Nicholas Luard walked the CF, in stages, over time, beginning whilst his daughter was ill and completing it after she had died.
No, I haven't. I read one of Elizabeth's about them moving to France, but I didn't know about their daughter. Thank you, I will look it up. Nice book title :)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2005,2008,2010,2015.camino Portuguese 2007 .primativo2012.camino Norte 2009.sjpdp to finisterre and muxia 2007. Le Puy to jpdp 2006. Via francigena vercelli to Lucca 2014. Lucca to Rome 2016.
Yes, thanks, I saw this and left a reply myself.

It is your sentiment exactly which got me to my first Camino. I read too many accounts of people on their death beds saying 'it' came sooner than expected and they didn't have time for what they wanted to do. So, off I went!
So true Tamsin,
I've met those a short time from death reading holiday brochures...heartbreaking really
Also those angry at their partners for dying and leaving them without enjoying their retirement..some saying "he wanted to work a bit longer so we could enjoy our retirement....this from a lady who was apoplectic with rage....I can still see her face even now after many years as I can the face of a young man reading the holiday brochure

And I never heard anyone say on their deathbed..."I wish I'd worked harder"
 

Tamsin Grainger

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés
De la plata
And, that’s what’s getting me.

The immediacy of death.

All he did was walk up a hill.

Again, may he rest in power.
I hope you are getting the support you need in your shock over the immediacy of death. Facing up to this possibility, really facing it, can be scary and have many repercussions, emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually.

Remember that it wasn't the walking up a hill that did it. That may have been the final stage, or it may not have had anything to do with the death (just happened to be one of the last things he did), but it doesn't detract from the shock and realisations you are feeling.

If you are not on the Camino now (I am at Portelo on the Portuguese), then finding a way to put your feet on the ground, one by one wherever you are, may be a great help to you. It reminds us, each time we make contact, that the earth is still there underneath us - to receive our weight: for us to stand on; and to push off from.

Be kind to yourself at this time.
 

Tamsin Grainger

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés
De la plata
So true Tamsin,
I've met those a short time from death reading holiday brochures...heartbreaking really
Also those angry at their partners for dying and leaving them without enjoying their retirement..some saying "he wanted to work a bit longer so we could enjoy our retirement....this from a lady who was apoplectic with rage....I can still see her face even now after many years as I can the face of a young man reading the holiday brochure

And I never heard anyone say on their deathbed..."I wish I'd worked harder"
Nor me.

In my work at the hospice I listen to those who have so much to process.
For me, the Camino is a way to do some of that while I am still here.
 

Tamsin Grainger

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés
De la plata
I have just read a book called 'Motherling', by Jen Hutchison, who walked the Camino after her son died and left parts of his ashes in spots where she felt his spirit tell her were the right spots. She was looking to finish in Santiago and was searching for a place put the second last packet when she felt a very strong presence of her son saying that inside the cathedral was not the right place but in Finisterra, so she went to Finisterra which she hadn't intended to do. She carries the last packet with her on all walks now so that her son can continue to adventure!
Thank you for your recommendation and a good summing up of the book. I will have a read.
 

Get on our Mailing list for new products on the Camino Store and news from the Camino Forum








Advertisement

Booking.com

Camino Conversations

Camino Conversations

Forum Rules

Forum Rules

Forum Donation

Forum Donation
For those with no forum account, it is possible to donate here as well. Thank you for your support! Ivar

Follow Casa Ivar on Instagram

Most downloaded Resources

When is the best time to walk?

  • January

    Votes: 16 1.2%
  • February

    Votes: 10 0.8%
  • March

    Votes: 55 4.2%
  • April

    Votes: 196 15.0%
  • May

    Votes: 325 24.8%
  • June

    Votes: 95 7.3%
  • July

    Votes: 24 1.8%
  • August

    Votes: 27 2.1%
  • September

    Votes: 378 28.9%
  • October

    Votes: 158 12.1%
  • November

    Votes: 17 1.3%
  • December

    Votes: 7 0.5%

Camino Forum Store

Camino Forum Store
Top
AdBlock Detected

We get it, advertisements are annoying!

Sure, ad-blocking software does a great job at blocking ads, but it also blocks useful features of our website. For the best site experience please disable your AdBlocker.

I've Disabled AdBlock