The Light Switch - Part One
Updated: Feb 25
“…There is a light that never goes out…”
- Morrissey. 1985
When I was in the very early days of trying to accept the reality of Darcy’s so-called "disappearance" and death I was desperate for some guidance about how to navigate the minute by minute assault of emotions and questions that I was struggling with. Everywhere I turned, every step I took through the day, every place I went, every utensil in my kitchen and every piece of furniture in my home would blindside me with a myriad of confusing thoughts and feelings. I was utterly lost in my own life. I was standing right in the trees but I couldn’t find the damn forest.
What had just happened? HOW could this happen? Why did this happen? More importantly, why did it happen to ME? To US? Just when I thought I knew something about how the universe worked, I no longer understood it at all. Just when I thought I was on a path to a higher version of myself, I couldn’t even feel my body or understand what it needed. It was like seeing a crisp clear hologram picture of my beautiful life path and then by shifting it just the tiniest bit, in a split second it became nothing but an ugly blur. Surreal. Unbelievable. Impossible. I wondered, was he ever actually even here? Am I actually even here? What in the actual world is going on?
All these big universal questions (What does it mean when it’s said that “everything happens for a reason?” What universal reason would be important enough to rip our hearts out and fuck with our minds like this?) and all the small questions (What day does the garbage go out? What kind of cat litter did he usually buy? When was the car last serviced? And how will I ever make waffles as good as his?) flooded my mind and heart through every moment of the day. I was drowning. It felt excruciating. Unbearable. All I wanted was some support. Someone – anyone – to tell me that they had felt a fraction of the confusion that I was feeling. But I couldn’t really find it. If I had a dollar for every person who said to me “I don’t know what to say”, I would be rich. (And the residual income would be great cause I still hear that line about 7-10 times a day!)
I had a few people in my life who were comfortable with talking about death and grief but overall, nothing anyone said resonated with me. No matter how good someone’s intention was, I always ended up feeling misunderstood, alone, disappointed and even angry. Favorite friends and family members who meant well just couldn’t seem to understand me or even sit and hold that space for me without trying to fix me or excreting a level of sympathy that just felt like pity. Almost always their words fell flat and just added to my feelings of isolation.
After about a month, I decided to start searching for book titles associated to grief. As a person who still has both parents alive, I was not well practiced at this so I wanted to find the “how to” guide for something I had never done before. Where should I look? I thought for half a second before I knew exactly the place! The place we look for EVERYTHING during a global pandemic… AMAZON, duh.
I tried to find something with a modern and appealing cover or a title that wasn’t designed for
80-something widows. I wasn’t looking for fluffy “Chicken Soup for the Griever’s Soul”, friends. I wanted the manual! “Grief for Dummies” please! Let’s DO this! Surely that was a thing, right?? Nope. All that I got from that trip to Amazon.ca was the obvious and delightful, much-needed, dopamine rush that comes from some retail therapy and clicking “Check Out” with a good full cart. (Thank you, Amazon. I will always love you for that.)
Everything I read seemed to serve up the same conflicting opinions and empty experiences that I had felt when chatting with friends about loss. There were a few comparable emotions but, overall, nothing landed for me. It was like our experiences were snowflakes… each entirely unique in shape and design, size and impact…and so it shouldn’t have been surprising that we didn’t really know how to support one another very effectively.
So many of the books had a heaviness to them that just seemed to further weigh down the dark blanket of sadness that I was already wrapped in. I wanted to see some light. I wanted to FEEL some lightness and hope! I wanted someone to tell me that I would feel ALIVE again one day, despite the trauma and tragedy. Every day, whenever I had a spare moment, I was journaling away…filling notebook after notebook and spilling my guts about how I couldn’t find that message of hope anywhere. Until one day, after a couple of months of grieving and writing, the light switch came on and I realized that (and this shouldn’t have come as such a big surprise but hey, I was preoccupied…AND even Oprah still has “a-ha” moments!) I could FIND the messages I needed WITHIN MYSELF. I could find it on the pages when I was the writer. It was all right there within me…
To be continued….