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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCtkkmjwd3U
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