The Light of Darkness

The term darkness has a variety of different meanings. The two that speak to me the most are: absence or deficiency of light and lack of knowledge or enlightenment.  Retrieved from:

There have been many moments, many periods in my life where the absence of light has permeated the core of my very being. The darkest years that I experienced were the ones immediately after my 18-year-old daughter Jeannine’s death on March 1,2003.  I saw no or little hope that I would be able to find genuine joy in my life or ever find meaning again. But because of the support of my friends and family and my eventual willingness to look at the darkness in my life differently, I was able to discover not only joy and meaning again, but love for others and myself.

At this juncture in my life, I am at peace most days with the circumstances of my daughter’s death and her physical absence. Even during the dark days that I sometimes experience (particularly during the holiday season), I remind myself that the pure unadulterated beauty of her spirit will be a part of who I am and comfort me for the rest of my days.

I am beautiful with you

                                      Even in the darkest part of me

                                 Lyrics from the song "Beautiful With You", by Haelstorm

Embracing Ritual and Ceremony

During the first seven years into my journey following Jeannine’s death, I derived comfort from the many signs or types of after death communication that she gave me of her continued existence in another setting. I interpreted them as validation that she desired to have an ongoing relationship with me. These signs or forms of after death communication also provided comfort to me because of her physical absence from my life. However, in any healthy relationship, both parties work equally hard to sustain it. In retrospect, this is why that during the eighth year of my journey ritual and ceremony became an important way of investing further in the spiritual bond that was developing with Jeannine, by actively reaching out to her.  On Jeannine’s ninth angelversary date (March 1,2012), I constructed a ceremony that helped me develop profound insight. On this day, my activities consisted of burning incense while praying and listening to music that we both enjoyed and which brought back fond memories of our relationship on earth. I began my ceremony at 5:30 AM. The sum of those numbers is 8, which is significant because it is, among other things, the symbol for infinity and eternal life. The incense that I burned was designed from my perspective, to promote the cleansing and purification of my mind, body and soul. I alternated music with prayer. I first recited a Native American prayer reinforcing that our deceased loved ones are still part of the greater universal energy. I then recited a prayer that I wrote specifically for Jeannine, utilizing Native American influences. During this prayer, I stated that I wanted Jeannine to continue to develop the wisdom in her new life to help others, besides me, develop a greater sense of knowing on their respective life journeys. I had essentially through ritual and ceremony, given Jeannine permission to grow in her new existence, trusting that the universe would take care of her, while still knowing that she would forever remain a part of me. I experienced a sense of empowerment because our father-daughter relationship ascended to a whole new level.

I encourage individuals who have experienced the death of their loved ones to utilize their own unique rituals and ceremonies to develop continuing bonds. Rituals and ceremonies can be done anytime you wish to share your sacred space with your loved ones. These traditions are not limited to specific milestone days like birthdays or angelversary dates.

You may experience as I have, empowerment and many moments of peace when ritual and ceremony become a standard part of your existence. Also you may discover as I have, that our darkest moments can turn into our most enlightened or insightful ones.

Managing Our Darkest Moments

In addition to ritual and ceremony, here are some other suggestions that I have for managing our darkest moments during times of life altering challenges:

  • You don’t have to experience darkness alone; obtain support from others who are experiencing similar challenges or from someone whom you explicitly trust, whether it be a mentor or a close friend.
  • If you look hard enough, a glimmer of light can be found in the darkest of clouds. During your darkest moments, focus on the light within, and embrace it, even if you don’t know where it is going to lead. Let your resolve and faith be stronger than your fear.
  • Turn to nature if you so choose, and allow its beauty to help you find peace.
  • When there is darkness, there is stillness. With stillness comes the discovery of teachings that can help us manage our life challenges, while discovering clarity in the process.  Embrace the teachings that the stillness in darkness can reveal, if you are open to it.




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About the Author
I became a parent who experienced the death of a child after my daughter Jeannine died of cancer on 3/1/03 at the age of 18. I am a retired addiction professional and am also an adjunct professor in the psychology and psychology-child life departments at Utica College. In 2007, I established Bootsy and Angel Books, LLC( The mission of Bootsy and Angel Books is to provide information, support, and services to individuals and families who have experienced the death of a child or other catastrophic losses. I have presented workshops at national conferences of The Compassionate Friends since 2008 and at gatherings of the Bereaved Parents of the USAin 2009 , 2011 and 2012. I have been a keynote speaker for national gathering of the Bereaved Parents of the USA in both 2011 and 2015. I am also the chapter leader for The Compassionate Friends of the Mohawk Valley. I have contributed articles to Living with Loss Magazine ,We Need Not Walk Alone, Hello Grief and Recovering the Self Journal. I have co-authored two books with Linda Findlay of Mourning Discoveries on navigating through grief during the holidays and pet loss. I am a contributing writer for the Open to Hope Foundation and have also appeared on Healing the Grieving Heart and the Open to Hope Television show.. I am also a featured speaker, workshop presenter and coach for Aspire Place( You can also find me on Facebook at:
I'm Grieving, Now What?