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Lisa's Camino de Santiago Journey - 2018

Why am I walking the Camino de Santiago?

For 24 years and 10 months I knew who I was, where I was going and what the future looked like. I liked what I saw. I’ve always been a planner and as I looked to the future life was clear, organised, well planned, tidy with direction and structure- just the way I like it. When I woke on the 24th March 2014 all was in order, I was Mrs Lisa Cartledge happily married to Sean and together we navigated life with love, laughter and passion. We watched our kids with affection and pride as they tackled life’s adventure. We were each other’s best friend, happy in each other’s company, and we would discuss our well planned future with excitement and anticipation. We were not Plan B people, because execution of Plan A never required the consideration of a Plan B.


And so, I walk.

By mid-afternoon on 25th March 2014 my world crashed without warning, ‘we’ became ‘I’. Life became a blur and in that instance my future seemed to disappear. I felt (feel) that when Sean took his life, he took my life and our future with him; I’ve been left in limbo. I don’t do uncertainty, unplanned or spontaneous well, and I feel like on the surface all appears calm and strong yet underneath it’s chaos. I’m trying to stay afloat and in control, doing my best to be strong for my kids, be strong for my friends, be strong for my family, and to be strong for me. I’m scared to let weakness and vulnerability be seen because I’m afraid I’ll fall down. If I give in to this all-consuming grief I’ll fall apart and no one will be there to pick me up- so I purposely smile broadly and hope that it conceals the fear, anger and loneliness I now live with.

And so, I walk.

Everything has changed and yet it’s all the same, friends don’t visit like they used to, three’s a crowd, restaurant invites are no longer, the phone doesn’t ring, and red wine pretends to be my friend. ‘We’ has become ‘I’ and ‘us’ is now ‘me. New friends, old friends, lost friends; get on with it, get over it, move on, deal with it- well intended advice and opinions. Gardening is a chore, not a pleasure, lawns still need cutting, bins still need to go out, responsibilities all fall on me, bills to be paid, decisions to be made, and sleep is unattainable. Life around me has gone back to normal, yet I don’t know how I fit into that normal anymore, what is my normal? The uncertainty is terrifying.

And so, I walk.

So why am I walking the Camino? I’m looking for ME.

I’m looking to meet Lisa Cartledge “the widow” and walk with her- at times side by side in silence, lost in our memories and thoughts, at times leading, at times following and at times simply reminiscing, which will bring laughter and tears. I hope to introduce the widow to others along the way and talk without shame or judgement about losing love, life and future to suicide; the elephant in the room.

And so, I walk. - Lisa Cartledge

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