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Walking Through the Dark Room of My Grief

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It’s been said there are five stages of grief, and they come in waves or all at once. There’s no roadmap telling your head and your heart what to expect next or what feelings will transpire. Grief can be like walking through a dark room you’ve been in before, but it’s all different. It’s confusing, unfamiliar, jutting out in different directions at unexpected times. In unexpected ways. Sometimes you may try to shield yourself from it, pretend it’s not there, act as if life itself has not been unchangingly altered. But then you realize, you’re in denial.

I’m in denial. I keep thinking the phone is going to ring at 3 a.m. and you’ll be on the other end talking about not being able to sleep or how your Western has replayed 50 times and you don’t know how to change it. I’m in denial. Thinking that when I can’t remember the song we sang in the car that one time, I can call you and you’ll be waiting on the other side to satisfy my noggin. I’m in denial. It comes in waves, always unwarranted, always unwelcome. I can’t bring myself to remove you from my favorites list in my contacts because I’m still convinced you’re waiting on the other end to hear my voice.

I find myself angry a lot. Mostly displaced anger that gets thrown on people who don’t deserve it. I’m angry about losing you, and I’m angry with myself, feeling like I wasn’t a better granddaughter. We often think we could’ve been better, even if we did the best we could. I always seem to blame myself, thinking that if I had done something different, I wouldn’t feel this pain in my chest. And sometimes I’m angry at you. Angry because you didn’t get the chance to see me place the key in the hand of the man worthy of my heart. Angry because I’m without 2 a.m. phone calls on my birthday, and a morning coffee pal. Often I find anger takes ahold and I find myself in yet another stage of the dark room grief has staged before me.

“If only…” There are many endings to that statement — if only we spoke more, if only I called that night, if only I checked in a little more often, but they’re only means to avoid the inevitable reality that there was nothing to be done. That what I did was enough. Who I was to you was enough. Sometimes there are moments when I sit in my car and I make promises and bargains with the man upstairs to give you back to me. This happens in waves as well, in the shower, in the car, walking on my way into work. But I can’t bargain back what’s already gone.

Looking up I see the lights I bought and hung above my bed. When I see them I think of the picture that shows up when you’d call. “It looks artsy, do this one,” you said to the photo of one of the lights hanging from the wire. I’m filled with a constant sadness. A pull-me-to-the-bottom-of-the-ocean heaviness than engulfs and envelops. I used to find comfort in this place. This is the only familiar part of that dark, grief-sized room. Depression comes hand in hand with losing you. It’s ever apparent and relentless. Its worrying about everyone else when I’m secretly falling apart. It’s a quiet corner to sit in when the room feels a few shades darker than it was before. But for all the negative, there is this slow, creeping feeling of potential acceptance lurking somewhere in this darkness.

I’m not sure how long I’ll stay in the dark. Could be days, weeks, months. But I know somewhere in the dark is the key to turning on the light. You always told me I am the key to my own success. So maybe the key to turning on the light will be found in the heart that’s still healing from a loss so great. The light of acceptance lies within that room. And I know I won’t stay in the dark forever.

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Thinkstock image by Kichigin

Originally published: August 4, 2017
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