The Sound of Silence…

The Sound of Silence

The first line from the song The Sound of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel is “Hello darkness my old friend I have come to talk with you again”.  Recently a dear friend introduced me to a new rendition of this song by a heavy metal band called “Disturbed”, not my genre or his but this somewhat lugubrious version is hauntingly beautiful. Sad and morose in nature, yet inspiring and captivating; you feel the roiling angst of grief expressed with dignity. It touched my heart and inspired me to combine the song with my drawings of the 20 Faces of Grief.  link to song: 

 Those who are bereaved and have experienced the death of a loved one understand what the line ” Hello darkness my old friend, I have come to talk with you again” truly means. We know who that old friend is   Let me introduce you to my old time friend. His name is Grief. He is not my enemy; he is my closest friend and ally. Grief is that old friend that listens to my deepest pains, fears, and sorrows; he is always available day or night.  That friend who came immediately to my side together with his friend Shock when my son died.  They both held me up with invisible arms to do the impossible and bury my child.

Grief is an old friend; I invited him to stay with me when my son died. When the funeral was over and my whopping three days of bereavement leave completed I went back to work. It was time to pull up my boot straps, get busy in my work and let time heal.  I told my friend Grief that although I was grateful for his support to get me through the funeral, there is no way he could come to work with me. It would be embarrassing; people would wonder why he was with me all the time and I would have to try and explain.  He agreed and for the most part Grief stayed home but his friend Shock insisted he come with me to work at least for awhile. I was glad he did, I could have not done it without him. Funny thing is no one really noticed him.

Being a good friend Grief honored my request and did not come to work with me those early weeks, but he did not leave altogether. I said he could stay in my son’s old room as long as he needed too.  Shock stayed in my room in the early days but grief stayed to his room for the most part. On many occasion although I would find him waiting for me, sitting in the car when I got off work. Sometimes he would even surprise me at work and say “let’s take the day off” and we would. He would seem to know the right time to pounce on me at work and we would go for a walk together, just he and I.

Sometime in that second year, Shock stopped coming with me to work and he just up and left one day. As a result my friend Grief started popping into the office more than ever before. He showed up at dinners, events, most every movie I went to,  and  he would even surprise me in the shower some mornings and I would lose it completely. In those early years most of our time together was spent kicking back on the couch and having a few beers together and drift off to the sound of silence. After while he never seemed to leave me alone, at home, at work , at night, I could not get away from him and he was a slob, a slouch and a grouch on a couch.

My friend became my nemesis, my antagonist, he shadowed my day and owned my night and I wanted him to leave, but he stood fast. I began to resent him taking over and controlling my life and leaving it in such a mess. I no longer wanted him as my friend but I had no strength to throw him out so I gave in gave up my control and rested in my own vulnerability to his care.  I gave in to my captor the same as hostage may do with their captor. It is not unlike The Stockholm Syndrome where a victim starts to believe the same values as the aggressor, they soon cease to see their captor as a threat and can rest.   So we rest.

Eventually at some indeterminate time Grief started to take a few vacations, longer and longer ones it seemed; sometimes I would not see him for a month. As much as I liked having my own life back, I missed him.  I experienced the very odd feeling of cognitive dissonance. I was holding two opposing wishes that muddled my brain like a difficult conundrum. I had to accept this is my life now. I am muddled. I am grieving. I am crazy. I am lost. My life is a mess and I need my friend.

 I knew I could call him if I needed too, but I felt I had already taken advantage of so much of his time that I did not want to bother him with minor complaints. Oddly he would seem to know the vision that was planted in my brain…and he would show up unannounced when I needed him most and stay as long as I needed him.

Sometimes he would stay for only an hour or two, at times a day or two but seldom longer than that. We did not drink beer on the couch together anymore or fall asleep with the TV on.  He seems to have grown up a lot; he stands a quite a bit taller now, and has lost a whole bunch of weight and he brought much less baggage than before. He is a whole lot less intrusive and domineering now; he mostly just listens with that understanding smile.

Today almost 30 years later he still visits on occasion; he always stops by on his own birthday, most holidays, some weddings but all funerals. Grief is a good friend, he saved my life. In learning to live with him…I have learned to live without him. We do stay in touch however.

If you are lost and cannot seem to find your friend, please lean on mine until you do find yours, and keep listening to the whispers contained in the sound of silence, it whispers hope.

Peace love n light

Mitch Carmody Aug/2016

Whats left in Pandora’s Box ?

What’s left in Pandora’s Box?

From ancient Greek mythology you may have heard of the legend of Pandora’s Box. Zeus with help from the other Gods created a beautiful woman as his daughter whose dowry was contained in magical box that she was instructed never to open. Pandora was the first woman who was created and she was to marry Prometheus the Titan who had created man.

Prometheus was the champion for mankind and he had stolen fire from Zeus to give to man use so that he could grow and prosper. Zeus enraged at the theft punished Prometheus by presenting his daughter to his brother Epimetheus to marry.

One night Pandora woke Epimetheus up and told him she had opened the box and all this pestilence, evils, and disease flew out before she could close the lid. Epimetheus went to the box and opened it to see for himself. He found that the box was not quite empty. There was one thing left inside…hope.

On our grief journey following the death of a loved one we find ourselves lost in a sea of despair. The evils of Pandora’s Box were unleashed into our lives and the lid slammed shut without any hope.

When our dreams are shattered hope seems elusive; even to survive it seems we are dishonoring our loved one. How do we find hope again?

It seems we have to go back to Pandora’s Box and open it once again to look for hope. We walk back into the dragons den of our fears; we face the dragon of death that took our loved one from us. We look at the pain and horror that has overtaken our life and identify the fears that keep us from finding hope. Our fear of forgetting, our fear of healing, our fear of not grieving, our fear of a meaningless future, our fear of laughing again, our fear of our own apathy, all fears that keep us in our cocoon of grief and safe from the reality of a harsh world.

Finding hope is risky business, finding hope takes work, finding hope takes commitment, finding hope takes faith. Hope without faith is mere optimism, faith is the fire on the candle of hope that sheds light in the darkness of despair. With hope kindled by faith and intention we can remove our fears one at a time by facing them and incorporating them into our daily experience.

Fear of forgetting is addressed by sharing our story with all that will listen and even to those that do not, we keep our loved ones name in the present tense, we remove the word had, and insert have.  I have two children; one who lives in Red Wing MN, the other one abides in places only dreamed of.

We have the fear of healing because we are afraid if we lose the pain we are somehow getting over it; so we pick the scab from our wound to keep it fresh; give me the pain if that is all I have left. Fear of healing can be assuaged by creating a legacy in the honor of our loved one. To create a legacy we need our health, our strength and our spirit.

Our fear of not grieving enough, not mourning correctly or not exhibiting affectations of mourning can be challenged by immersion into the grief. Watch home  movies, look at photo albums, watch Hallmark and other tear-jerker movies, tell life stories and the death story; catalyze the tears in any way you can, give yourself the opportunity and permission to actively lament, cry and even rage. Our fear of a meaningless future can be removed by planting seeds. Some seeds sprout immediately, some lay dormant for years; some seeds need the heat of a forest fire to bring them to life; now scorched by the fires of your loss, long dormant seeds may emerge. Talents laying deep within may show themselves in the continual struggle to survive. We just have to watch for them and nurture them; they are our future.

Our fear of laughing again can be addressed by simply watching a funny movie, being around children, be with friends who make you laugh, wear a red clown nose to work, allow people to laugh with you, it’s contagious and you will laugh in the process. Take a risk to be silly. Laughter is a free and natural anti-depressant with no side effects.

Our fear of our own apathy can be conquered by serving someone else’s needs above your own. In any way, no matter how small the act is, it can neutralize apathy immediately.  Apathy is probable the most deleterious state of being to our emotional, spiritual and physical health and the biggest barrier in find hope. Give and you shall receive; and you shall receive hope.

The world, our life and our grief journey are all an allegory to Pandora’s Box.  Most people who remember the legend only remember the evils that were let out of the box to plague mankind.  We tend to forget the most important teaching is what was left in the box for us to find on our own. In opening the box once again we return to self, no longer looking for what we have lost but going back and discovering what we have left. It all starts with finding hope.


“Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future”

-Robert H. Schuller