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Wounded Animals

June 1, 2017

I was consumed by my grief. The loss of my son had come to define me. That’s who I was. The guy whose son had died over a decade ago. I was no longer at the races. Was surviving rather than living. I had hit a wall and could no longer do this on my own, and so for the first time ever I started working on myself. Signed up for The Bridge Retreat.

Straight away it was clear that this was a gift to myself. A warm nurturing cuddle. A place of sublime calmness where we were expertly looked after as we went down deep. A wonderful setting with incredible soul food. No booze, no digital devices, not even any reading. Large chunks of silence and dollops of amazing music. Also a return to nature, to trees and flowers, to fires and stars.

I had no idea it would be such a truly remarkable five day adventure, a healthy detox for mind, body, and soul. And the strangers quickly became my tribe. I was no longer alone. I was witnessing everyone else’s loss, sadness, and anger as well as sharing my own. It was incredibly emotional and supremely powerful.

It is a perfectly orchestrated spiritual detox. Amazingly never, ever hokey. Perfectly pitched even for the extreme cynics. An incredible experience that because it’s so personal will be different for all.

You cant really hide anymore at The Bridge. It makes you stand up and be counted. To have a voice. To stop being a victim. To rage and shout and scream and cry. It brings you from your hiding place back into the world.

After all the grief, loss and anger you are steered towards love. Of knowing you are loved and that you are not broken after all, that you are capable of loving again. Of feeling that wonderful warmth, of falling back in love with life again. The Jake who left was so vastly different from that who entered. Lighter and loved.

From The Bridge I have taken so much…
I know that I am capable of giving and receiving love. I am not a broken man but a loveable one. That being part of a tribe/a community is vital. That silence, learning to be with yourself is hard but remarkable. That it only takes a few days without drink, devices and distractions and then you don’t miss them at all, you don’t need them in the slightest.

I am still me, Only a better version of myself. More present, more awake. I’m ok and it’s alright to have fun and being alive is a bloody waste if you aren’t. There’s so much beauty, so much great stuff to witness now I have loosened the paralysing chains of grief.

I learned that we are not alone. That moving your body like a mad bad dancer does wonderful things for the soul. That spending time working on and treating yourself is not indulgent but necessary. That we all have our sad story and our struggles and witnessing others in a non-judgmental way is incredibly healing. And slowly now my dear old mojo is returning. The dense fog of grief has gone. I am no longer defined by my grief. No longer am I ‘Hi I’m Jake my son died.’. I’m just Jake. And that alone is worth everything. Even the old sparkle occasionally glints in my eyes…

Everyone should do The Bridge – as I keep telling people. They really must.
It’s a beautifully orchestrated five days that will deeply affect and change your life forever. I am incredibly humbled, grateful and lucky.

Jake Knowles, Writer & Director

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