Ever have one of those days when it feels like everything is a dead-end? The person you need an email response from has an auto reply “out of office,” the website you need to make critical updates on is down, important phone calls are all met with voice mail recordings…I think you get my drift.

Well I feel like I have been stuck in a dead-end for the last several months. I think it began at the 5 year anniversary of Claire’s death on March 1 when I realized, “I don’t know how to do this anymore.” Prior to that I had felt like I was beginning to get a handle on the grief thing. I thought I understood the ebbs and flows, I knew to “ride the wave” of grief, I comprehended that it had a mind of its own, etc. But something happened at the five-year mark. I don’t even know what and I don’t know how to put it into words. I just knew I felt different and it was unfamiliar territory and I did not know how to navigate it – and still don’t.

So here I am, wandering around in the dark, running into dead-end after dead-end.

  • I feel the incredible pain and anguish of grief bubbling up inside me, just on the cusp of breaking loose, but it stops short. Dead End.
  • I sit down to write but my muse is MIA and words are unable to appear on the page. Dead End.
  • I attempt to prepare for a class I am teaching this summer but thoughts and ideas elude me and my brain can’t seem to comprehend simple words and concepts as I try to read relevant information. Dead End.
  • I carefully count my calories each day and put in my required 5-6 workouts per week only to see the scale stuck in place month after month. Dead End.
  • I feel overwhelmed with sadness at the state of our country with all its injustices and inequities, but feel powerless and lack energy to make a difference. Dead End.

The thing about a Dead End is there is no outlet. That is not good. At the risk of becoming too graphic in my use of metaphor, if we are unable to expel the waste after ingesting food, it becomes toxic and can kill us. It needs a way out. Or I think about the health of rivers due to the flow –water comes in and it goes out. As opposed to a body of water which is closed off and becomes stagnant. I feel that my flow is blocked but I don’t know how to break it open. Do I blast it open with a stick of dynamite? Do I chip away slowly like Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption? Do I back my way out the way I came in and look for another route? Is any of that even possible?

One of the most irritating things for me to hear in my grief journey is the old adage that “Time heals all wounds.” I want to cry “Bullshit!” Time can make the wounds go deeper. It creates new wounds. Claire has never had the chance to meet her new brother-in-law. She wasn’t able to attend the weddings of her father or her mother to their new spouses. She has never seen the house I live in. Life goes on but she is not here to experience it with us. And that is not okay with me. It never will be. How do I maintain my sanity while trying to move forward in a time where she doesn’t exist in physical form while hanging on to a past in which she did? And who would she be as a 23-year-old young woman? Would she like whisky or vodka or neither? Would she have a boyfriend? A girlfriend? Would she live on her own or with roommates? Or with us? What career would she have? Would she have been standing on I-94 last night making her voice heard for justice and equality? Or would she quietly express herself in a different way? WE DON’T KNOW AND WE NEVER WILL! And that frankly feels like a big fucking DEAD END. Literally.

On a lighter note, this picture was taken several years ago while Dan and I were visiting his dad and step-mom down in Florida. We had a good laugh at the indisputable connotation of that intersection, probably both secretly wondering if it were some sort of omen regarding our own relationship. I insisted on snapping a picture with him posing proudly, possibly inferring that this was his personal mantra. But here we are some eight years later still happily residing on our own Lovers Lane. So I guess not everything is a Dead End. And that is what keeps me going. And maybe remembering that will help things start to flow again.


9 thoughts on “DEAD END

  1. Jane, I think you surpassed your “Dead End” in the flow of words and ideas. You are a gifted writer and have adequately put your voice to a lot of issues. I will be praying for you as you find you way back to the journey God has planned for you and Dan. Psalm 139 is one of my favorite scriptures and blesses me every time I read it. I lost my beloved Jim 2 1/2 years ago, and I am SO blessed to know that God has had a Master Plan for me (and Jim) since before Creation. I don’t always understand it, and I don’t navigate every day in the direction He wants, but regardless He brings good out of even my worst choices. Love you, b


  2. I completely understand the dreadful “She should be here. She should be experiencing this with me!” I hate it. Try to remind yourself Claire still loves you & wants you to be happy ♡♡♡♡


  3. Being able to write your thoughts and feelings in the midst of your dead end space will hopefully help you navigate your way through it. Eventually. When you are ready. Or not. I had a picture of a massive dead end wall that had no way through, over or around. I don’t have answers either. I can commit though to loving you in whatever space you are.


  4. Jane I continue to admire your openness and emotional effort in writing these posts. Thank you for so clearly articulating a relatable experience both in grief and in stuckness. ❤


  5. They say life goes on but there is always an emptiness for us although I did not know Claire…I have emptiness in my life thru loss. I can relate to your pain, maybe in different ways but I understand. I am feeling stuck too these days but yet I am doing things that make it seem like I am not stuck, as you are by writing. Continue to have courage, Strength will keep you,(and I) going forward


  6. You’re a beautiful writer Aunt Jane. Still sending yoga intentions to you and Claire at every practice, maybe it’ll help. Love you. Kelly


  7. Absolutely beautiful what you have written. The dead ends you describe are the beginning of insights for many of us. Wishing you comfort.


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