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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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Sitting on Dark Mountains

When grief comes, it pulls a blanket of darkness over our world, and we begin to move through shadows. We live in a void of everything we’ve ever known or loved.

When my beloved died, I went to Yosemite and sat in the darkness of Glacier Point, between the light of the constellations above and the campfires of people a mile below, trying not to think about the bears and mountain lions moving in the wilderness behind me. The life I had known had abruptly ended, and I was thrown into a place where there even the constellations seemed unfamiliar.

I existed in this place between the living and the dead for months, and eventually knew that I had to create a new world to live in, or continue to drift in empty, meaningless space. It was in the darkness that I found I could deal with despair, confront the loneliness, and start to undo the trauma of Ev’s death. It was here, away from all distractions, that I began to sort through the chaos and understand what I needed to do. Even though I didn’t like being here, this was where I was, so this was where I had to begin. 

The darkness forces us to search for the shiver of light that survives in the rubble of our hearts.

Our impulse is to turn away from death and the darkness it brings. But the only way to deal with grief is to enter the darkness, embrace the pain, and go through. In the darkness, we are away from distractions, and as we focus on grief, our hearts open to the Presence that is here.

Grief is one of life’s great experiences. It has much to teach us about ourselves and what’s important in life. Besides compassion, the only other valuable thing we have to share with others are the stories of our lives — our struggles, hopes, and triumphs. May we live interesting lives.

Darkness is where light is rooted.

It’s not easy to dwell in the darkness. It takes courage to be attentive to grief. It takes enormous strength to face your anger, fears, and despair. Yet it is better to sit here in the quiet than settle for the easy answers from well-meaning friends that dissipate after a few hours and leave us feeling even more alone. Pain tells us where we are broken, and grief is our guide.
Although we feel abandoned and alone, the darkness is where artists often choose to live because here there are no boundaries, and no limitations on what is possible. Here they can create something new from the primary elements of the universe.

As we work with grief, as we express our feelings and thoughts in words, music, and images, we become artists of grief’s darkness. As we take charge of our lives, we see light brightening on the horizon.

For months this darkness lived in my heart. The lights of the stars and the slow, twirling dance of their constellations kept me company, reminding me that even time has its seasons, until the sun that lived in those mountains rose.