I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing;
wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing;
there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought.
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness, the dancing.
~ T.S. Eliot ~
There are so many things I like in this poem by T.S. Eliot.
So many people seem to talk about grief as “darkness.” We hear about needing to turn towards the light. Look for the light. We’re told we need to overcome darkness. Yada yada yada.
But you know what? Darkness is not a bad thing.
Before my partner died, I had no problem with “dark.” In fact, when I was seeing clients, or writing for various papers, I often talked about the fear of the dark, fear of darkness, the endless pitting of darkness versus light, how silly it all was.
Darkness is nothing to fear; darkness is just an inner turn, a waiting.
Most things start in darkness. All germination begins in the dark (well, okay, except for a few flower seeds that need light to germinate…). Anyway.
Darkness is not now, and never has been, a metaphor for lostness or evil or anything negative at all, for me.
But that’s not the way our culture sees it. Now, I could go on and on about this, all the ways our culture has demonized the dark, but I think part of this obsession with light, this need to pit light and dark against each other, is part of why people are convinced grief is “bad.” Why they insist on cheering us up, bringing light back into our lives.
Grief is absolutely a time of darkness.
A time when that outer, light-filled expansion is just not the natural response or reaction. Darkness is what is. It is what is appropriate, natural, normal.
There is nothing to fear from grief. There is nothing to fear from the darkness that envelops new grief, and newly shattered hearts. That darkness is there for a reason. The dark has its own work to do.
Just because it isn’t bright and clear and shining does not make it wrong.
The dark is beautiful and necessary. You are meant to be stilled inside it.
What is true is that in grief, the darkness is the light, and the stillness is dancing.
How about you? How have you experienced the seeming conflict between light and dark? Have you found nourishment or support inside the darkness of grief?