A Spark in the Tunnel of Grief


You’ve got to own your grief. It’s part of the package: deep love/deep grief, immense loss/intense pain, unique love/special grief. Your love hit by grief is unlike anyone else’s. Yet, it’s the same.

You can’t recognize the universality until you acknowledge, feel, wrestle with, allow, respect, resent, release, and then gather the gifts of your own pain.

If you spend your life resisting and denying sadness, focusing only on the positive, you resign yourself of many of life’s most valuable experiences, the kind of challenges that make way for one to grow into a stronger, wiser, more compassionate individual.

That’s why I own my grief (not because it’s so fun!). Because I’ve been here before, one of the many dark holes in my life. The dark holes lead to dark tunnels where I’ve tripped and fallen, crawled and clawed in the dirt, cursed the dark, and begged for the light.

When it didn’t arrive in a nanosecond, I considered ending it all or finding a way to live in and make peace with the darkness. Yet, I kept moving forward toward the light, even when I was unsure if it existed or if I’d lost the ability to see it.

Still, I kept making my way. I caught glimmers that made me think I was close. But, in the tunnel of grief, there are many holes, hills, and ladders—like the game of Chutes and Ladders. In the tunnel, it doesn’t feel like a game. It doesn’t feel like winning. It feels rigged, like being lost in a foreign land without a map.

Then, randomly in the tunnel, when you least expect it, you find a flashlight or a candle and matches. Wahoo! I’ll find my way out of this! Then come the huge strides forward, right before the flashlight batteries die or the wind blows out the candle and you drop the matches in the water.

Shit! But, oh my God! Water! There’s water. And a strangely foreign feeling of elation and determination rises like hunger.

That feeling carries you far in the dark twists that await you in your tunnel. What you may find, as I have, you don’t seek and then suddenly get greeted by the light. Isn’t that how we want it to be?

La la la! Then, I felt no more sadness, no more darkness or pain.

I wish. I so fucking wish it went that way. Maybe for Pollyanna, who I spent years trying to emulate. Maybe for all those gals who call themselves princesses.

For me, the light out of the tunnel comes in flashes—at first like falling stars, easy to miss and nothing to grab.

Rather than getting out of the tunnel, the darkness fades. It’s hard to measure because you’ve come so far in the tunnel in darkness.

The tunnel is like a shell around you. Or maybe it’s like a birth canal.

Here’s what I know: there’s light out there. Unfortunately, I can’t command it. But, I believe. I seek. I wait, notice, and embrace the light when it arrives.

I pray to someday reflect a little back into the tunnel. May I be a spark.

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