The darkness I refer to is the painful and life-draining wreckage left after the loss of someone or something that is deeply significant to us. The wreckage is all the "what ifs","I wish", "If only","I should have/shouldn't haves" that remains and keeps repeating itself over and over in our hearts and minds. It is every word,
opportunity, or experience that was left undone, unsaid,uncommunicated, or unresolved. The light is recovering a sense of well being, having memories without painful feelings of regret or remorse, and knowing it is okay to feel sadness from time to time and being able to talk about those feelings regardless of what others think or say. But most of all; although tender, your heart no longer feels irreparably broken and torn apart.

When we lose someone to death,divorce,or relationship breakup,we are left with the physical absence of the person, and naturally feel the intense loss of their presence in our lives. We miss their voice, smile, and the endearing things they said or did. These,of course,are the conscious aspects of the loss we feel. However,as we grieve, the dreams made and now lost and the plans made that will never be realized, the tentacles of grief burrow deep into the vast regions of our subconscious and stir up long forgotten insecurities, fears of abandonment, shame,irrational guilt or phobias.

If the relationship with the lost loved one was painful, tumultuous, or deeply complex,as was my relationships with my brother and mother,then a barrage of emotions and long held beliefs can come gushing to the surface to deepen and complicate our grief. Anger, frustration, regrets, guilt, or sadness all become part of your everyday life because so many opportunities to give and receive love were missed and now our chance to make the relationship better than it was is gone. Perhaps the loved one was an unhappy and wounded person and our efforts to help,support, and encourage were unseuccessful. When that is the case, then deeply embedded, self deprecating beliefs such as, "you can never do anything right", can come roaring up from the depths of our heart and subconscious to smother us in regret, guilt, or sadness. Or perhaps, much of our life we were told we were a selfish person who thought of no one but ourselves, so that became part of our belief system. Now, we get to beat ourselves up with regret, remorse, or doubts that maybe we did not do enough to help the loved one or to improve the relationship.

One of the saddest and most revealing indications of how deep were my insecurities and doubts about myself, was my intense and almost overwhelming need after my mother's death to know if she knew how much I loved and respected her. During the weeks leading up to mother's death, the hospice nurse and volunteer told me many times how touched they were by the love and attention I showered on my mother. This constant reenforcement was not enough, however, to convince the wounded little girl, Donna, who so desperaely needed her mother's love and approval. The amount of undelivered communication and unresolved emotions left when mother died caused me such intense emotional and mental pain that I,frequently, had difficulty breathing.

What I experienced on my long road out of darkness, is, to one degree or in one way or another,the same as every griever.

After a significant emotional loss, most of us will very naturally review the relationship;and when we do we find so many things we wish had been different or better than they were, or that there had been more love expressed, more time spent together,etc. All of this is emotionally unfinished and unresolved business that must be acknowledged and addressed if we are to heal and recover from our loss.If we are going to recover and move out of the darkness, it is essential for us to become complete with all the emotions and experiences left unresolved so we can then feel complete with the person lost, as well as,completing our relationship to the pain, lonliness, regrets, or guilt.So we can end the emotional pain and emptiness still gnawing and tearing at our hearts. A person can have an intellectual understanding of the grief process and even a mental or spiritual acceptance of the loss, and still be unable to step back into the mainstream of life with a sense of meaning and well being.

Recovering from grief and traveling out of the darkness into the warmth of the light does not mean we have to abandon religious or spiritual beliefs or say "good-bye" to the memories. In the case of a loved one's death, believing the person is in a better place or that you will see the person again in an afterlife are very comforting, but do little to heal the agony of unresolved emotions, unfinished business, or unexpressed emotional communications.

There are many myths and misperceptions surrounding grief and recovery from grief that are well meaning but can actually increase the griever's feelings of sadness, loneliness, or isolation. How often have we heard; "Just give it time,time will heal the wounds", "You need to stay strong for your...",or "It's important to stay busy and keep your mind occupied". Time will do nothing for our grief except drive it further down into our heart, mind, and body. We don't need to stay strong so others feel better or so others don't know we are hurting. Staying busy will keep our mind off our pain but will do absolutely nothing to help us heal or recover. Because we are human and want others to like us, we hide our grief behind our "I'm feeling much better" or "I'm doing great" face so others don't feel bad or think we have grieved long enough and now it's time to "get on with our lives".

Denying or hiding or grief will do nothing but allow us to continue our prolonged emotional and mental hemorrhaging, and can even manifest as physical ailments.

There is no doubt our lives are forever changed after the death of a loved one or a painful divorce. However, the feeling of what seems like never ending sadness,lonliness, or regret do not have to keep us from re-entering the mainstream of life and rediscovering our joy and vitality. After my brother's suicide in 2006, it was far easier for me to find my way out of the darkness.

Author's Bio: 

Ms. Haddad is a Grief Recovery® Specialist,Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, Speaker, Holistic Behavioral Therapist,author of two books and contributing author to The Speaker Anthology-101 Stories That Have Inspired and Motivated Audiences From Coast To Coast. She has spent the last 13 years helping clients and conducting seminars in California and Oregon. Ms. Haddad is available to clients and for Speaking Engagements, and invites everyone to visit her website: