Every Wednesday

Every Wednesday I will post something about grief. Sometimes it will be a reflection on an aspect of grief’s landscape. Now and then I will share from my own journey of grief, because in the sharing of our stories we find strength and build a community of people that support one another.

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Dark Station

When death comes, we leave the world of light behind and enter a world of shadows.

Colors mute to gray. Sounds are all in the distance. Even if it’s sunny and in the eighties, the air feels cold and we wear a jacket. Food tastes like cardboard, so we don’t eat. Everything we pick up is rough to the touch. Our world shifts into slow gear.

When my wife died suddenly, the world I had known went dark. The shock of what had happened was so unlike anything I had experienced before that my sensory awareness of the world went numb. The thing called Grief was so massive that it blocked everything else out.

When death hits, the world becomes a noisy commuter train with flashing lights, clacking rails, and packed with people chatting too loudly. Then we’re standing alone on the platform at midnight in an empty station at the end of the line. The darkness and silence are a relief because the world had become too bright. Too loud. Finally we can breathe.

At first nothing seems to be here, and nothing moves. Our eyes adjust to the darkness and stars emerge. Their stillness brings presence to the hours. Each star seems alone, separated by light years from each other, but as we watch, we detect the thin, gossamer threads that connect each star to the other stars in the constellation.

Tonight, as on every night, hundreds of new people are getting off trains in dark stations around the world, feeling alone as they watch the stars. Waiting.

We sense others who are grieving around us, even though we don’t know their names or where they live.

Someone stands in the shadows, waiting for the cab that will take him away from despair over his child’s death.

Someone lies in bed unable to sleep. She cannot touch the empty space beside her, the loss of his physical body is too stark, and she refuses to pretend that his love never was.

Someone is in his backyard watching for meteors, remembering when he used to watch for them with his wife, waiting for some sign to tell him it’s okay to let go and move on.

Someone is on the bus going home at midnight after the closing shift, watching streetlights flash by, seeing the dark houses where people are asleep with their families, and wondering if she will ever be a mother, if she will ever risk trying to give birth again.

Someone can’t leave the loneliness of the beach after the sun goes down, a beach he used to walk with his father. The sounds of the restless ocean wash in and flow away, bringing the only presence he can feel, the only thing that calms his mind.

We are a community that lives in the dark world. Waiting.

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