Tag Archives: grief

A Pause in the Dark


The long dark.

I know too many shattered people right now. After the initial anger of the Election passed into frantic holidays, the hangover of a New Year, and now through the long dark of winter, there don’t seem many reasons left to get out of bed. Unless the compulsion of work or family drives forced actions performed without joy. Helplessness, fear and exhaustion reign as the emotions of the moment. Locked inside from the cold and weather, the natural cycles of day and night cease. Just a gruesome slog through the dark.

And this is OK. These are precisely the emotions you should be feeling right now. Our feelings do have purpose.That is why we have them. And while we’ve been raised to deny our hearts’ cries for attention, don’t. Feel it. Feel all of it. Just let it wash over you, and then stop.

I don’t mean stop feeling how you feel. I mean PAUSE. The world will last without you for a moment. So pause. Don’t think. Don’t reflect. Don’t judge. Just be still enough for whatever amount of time you can gift to yourself. Shut out everything else.Your mind, heart, soul and body ARE EXHAUSTED. Aren’t they? So pause. Develop a sudden and terrible illness. Text the world your grandmother is on fire. Make your status “Dropped phone in toilet.” Then do it for real. You cut people breaks, time to carve one out for yourself by whatever means necessary.

If you can achieve “pause” for five minutes or five days: take it. You absolutely, without doubt or question or self-recrimination need to. Right now. And this is why: across the yawning abyss you see before you now, there is life. Your single, precious life. And all of the signal and unique lives of those you love and who truly love you. Everything you still love and hate and fear are there as well. But you can’t face any of it until you can cross that chasm in your heart.

You have lost something. Your guide, your bearings, your sense of the world, your comfort, your joy and righteous anger, your laughter, your silliness, your sense of your own strength and voice. You’ll find them again. But you’ll never be the same. You’ll be stronger, sharper, and bear with you forever the hard and unblinking brightness that you have earned. Your secret, sacred  fire will blaze forth from your eyes and heart, your words and deeds will kindle the fire of fellow travellers through the long dark; warm the comfortless, and sear your foes with its wroth.

But, just now, pause. Let the darkness wash over you. It will pass. The days grow longer by seconds that become hours. And on one of those days, you may stay in your clothes longer than your pj’s. Maybe not on the first day. Don’t force it to happen. It just will. You know it will. Just allow yourself this time to process all that has passed. Only then will you be able to face what is come. Pause.

If any women are interested in this post or my previous, please consider joining a new Facebook Group: Women’s Community for Psychological Strength and Support. This is a closed group, so please contact me via Messenger to be added. 

Check out my Instagram! There are pictures of things I like and hate! 😊

Got a comment? Click below! I love the feedback. If you like what you’ve read, tap Like and Share! Click here to follow on Twitter.

Good Grief


Admiral Molly loving life


Friday morning, Molly, my dog of thirteen years, died in my arms. Then I just sat there next to her, drank my coffee, and read about Orlando and guns on the interwebz for an hour. A dissociative episode: shock.

I knew it was coming, her death. In the last few weeks I’ve inhabited that inbetween world of weird: the frantic care, fatigue, constant foreboding, and desire to be strong that being with the terminally ill brings. Down to Molly’s doped up desires to do odd things in the middle of the night, it was flashback to the final weeks of my father’s cancer.

I’ve seen enough death to know how odd it is. One moment a living being is before you, and then they’re a stiff, cold shell that needs to be washed and cleaned up so other people can look on the dead and say “oh they look so peaceful.” And as the dead lie there, appearing to sleep, you do stuff like excuse yourself in the way you would talk to a department store mannequin you bumped into. It’s just off. They’re there, but not.

When I worked for a funeral home, I used to have to walk past Mr. or Mrs. So-and-So everyday to get coffee. I learned grief speak like a sick Monty Python parody: passed on, deceased, shuffled off this mortal coil, gone to meet their maker, joined the bleeding choir invisible.

Truth is, no one remembers those first few days after a death. People in grief are halfway to the other side themselves.  Hence all the couched terms and euphemisms. So fragile. The grieving have one foot on the other side. They want to follow the dead into the grave.

It’s not until they realize that life trundles heedlessly on that the depression and anger sets in. How dare people go about their lives as though nothing happened?! Don’t they know what I’ve lost?! Don’t you see I just can’t!?

I had Molly for 13 years. I was checking out her rather plain smooth coat JRT brothers, when this ball of white and ginger fluff tumbled down the stairs. Molly! She Bogarted herself into my heart, like the true independent and stubborn alpha gal she was.

She was my total bestie, excercise partner, fishing cheerleader, vermin killing, begging, spoiled, loving buddy who never let me down once. And this house has never been so empty. The park never so unappealing. The sun never so harsh. My favorite fishing and camping spots…all haunted by the spirit of Molly, unconquerable in death as in life.

I know it’s normal. Malaise and sadness, nausea and emptiness, anger and wroth that would make Achilles blush. All changing places, shuffling, resurfacing. The careless moment in which you call the deceased’s name. Looking for someone who you’ll never again see with mortal eyes.

My advice to folks who know others that are suffering the trauma of grief is “Chill.” Let them have their space. Don’t tell them what to think, believe, or feel. Let them come back to life in their own time, in their own way. Just remind them that you are there. There’s no substitute for being there.

And that’s very much what I tell myself and others who are grieving. Give yourself time to feel the whole mess. Don’t feel as though there is a way you should feel. Own your feelings as they are right now. You may never feel as though the pain will go away, and you may not want it to. And when it does, you will feel guilty. Feel it. Feel all of that. This is life at the marrow of the bone. Recognize it. Name it. Accept it with compassion for yourself, a poor mortal. In time, you’ll be OK with the fact that the pain will dull. But you’re nowhere near that now. Don’t push it. Just be.

It occurs to me that the entire nation has been plunged into a great momento mori yet again. We won’t always be here. But we are here now. Say Yes to all that is good and right to feel and do now. Be mad, be rash, smoke and explode, sell all your clothes… Just remember to hold your loved ones a little dearer, and most importantly, hold onto yourself. I hope, for all of us who are or have or will love and lose (i.e. all of us), that as deep as your pain goes now, that’s as high as your joy will soar…hopefully, again, someday…just not today. Today, just chill. Today, let it be.

In memoriam: Molly, 2003 – 2016

Thank you for teaching me to love all of life even a fraction as much as you did.


Jess Kicks Her Own Ass Pt. 1.2


I knew him well, Horatio!

Alas! I know this feeling well, Horatio!

I suppose I’ll address the issue of my “negativity” or “pessimism”, along with some other words I’ve been hearing in relation to my writing and other media, comments, etc lately  (really, “emo?). These claims have a certain validity, but I’d hardly call my muse “the tombstone”, as someone recently observed. Mostly it’s just winter, and frankly I’m against it. I enjoy freedom of movement and the outdoors. My most cathartic moments are generally spent out of doors with my dog and my man. But let’s sing a song of momento mori today.

I want to feel something in life, even if that be something be “bad.” I don’t even necessarily care for that word or the notion of “negative emotions.”  There’s a time for The Beatles and there’s a time for Mozart’s Requiem or even just a sad etude. Winter naturally reminds us of death. And there’s been more than a few reasons to mourn lately. Bowie has left us for the stars. And Alan Rickman is sneering on us from some celestial plane of infinitely languid condescension.  So what’s so wrong with a bit of sad?

Not a thing. Say I. And dear me, how could I be alone? Why go around with a silly grin plastered on your face everyday unless you fear some unbearable evil will befall if your smile should slip? I’ve never seen anything wrong with celebrating an old cemetery, a moment passed, a shiny yellow memory that’s gotten blue on it. How would we ever know Joy without Sadness? Right my fellow Pixar fans?

I don’t advocate dwelling in grief, sorrow or despair. But ignoring these emotions seems to me far more perilous a thing than letting them grow inside until they own you without your realizing. When your fear of your own Dark Side dictates your very life because you’ve neglected it, then what? If we had no reminders of that eternal loss, our own mortality, how can we be expected to handle the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to?

Denying the Dark is every bit as dangerous as ignoring the Light. That’s why we can experience both. Evolution teaches us that nothing evolves without a reason because nature doesn’t waste energy. All of our emotions are there for a cause, and a very good one. They’re how we learn to live as a human being and survive the process.

I recently heard a phrase I liked. “When you light a candle, you also cast a shadow.” ( Ursula K. Le Guin, The Earthsea Cycle) I don’t know the context of the quote, but I do know that the the Light and the Shadow are always with us. Shakespeare wrote sonnets of loss, and it never dimmed the brilliance of his humor. But it occurs to me that all life navigates that in-between world of mirth and joy, darkness and sorrow.

Why not choose winter, when the light is cold and Persephone still walks in the underworld, to meditate on those quiet, and not so quiet, shadow moments? Just don’t live there. The Spring will come.

And on the next sunny day, “Let’s go where we’re happy. I’ll meet you at the cemetery gates. Keats and Yeats are on your side. But Wilde is on mine.” (The Smiths, Cemetery Gates)

PS – I’m still with Johnny Cash on wearing black though.  I’ve got that which passeth show. Good grief!

%d bloggers like this: