She was blinded when she emerged from the tunnel. For so long, she anticipated the glorious moment, of raising her arms to the sky and basking in the sunshine.


But instead, she could barely open her eyes. The sun was too bright and the light blinded her. She tried to adjust to the light, but her eyes still hurt even after a few days. She began to realize that her eyes were very different now, so many changes had happened while she was in the tunnel. Now she felt much older and weaker, even though not much time had passed.


It was also hard to straighten up after crawling for so long. But her music still helped her and was her nourishment. Each song infused her with hope. Finally her eyes adjusted, and she realized the tunnel opened up to a precipice. There was nowhere else to go as she stood at the edge of a cliff. Not long ago, she had clearly seen that vision. In her mind, she easily pictured herself leaping off the edge and soaring, without any fear of falling.


Yet now, she was terrified she would fall. She imagined that it couldn’t hurt nearly as much as the pain in her heart. Finally, the brightness was too much. She decided to retreat back into the tunnel. It wasn’t time to fly yet. Perhaps she might never fly. It occurred to her that something had changed. She had stopped dreaming.


I wrote my parable above while in an emotional and teary state; I know I’m depressed. I realize that I am grieving the loss of my 31-year marriage, though I know the pain is temporary while I adjust. I’ve begun looking into divorce support groups and counseling. I made a breakthrough of defeating laziness by taking several walks across the street from my new abode. I lived in this coop until the age of 21 and have memories of attending the high school across the street. As I walked and listened to my music, I began looking at the sky and trees. My heart felt lighter. I took a few pictures with my cellphone to add to my blog.

I finally received news from my doctor that the results of my holter monitor were not serious. However, I have great benefit from the wisdom of my good friend, Dr. Sam, whom I reconnected with not long after I began blogging. Dr. Sam and I dated in high school and he found my blog after I wrote a story about the “first song I ever wrote.” He suggested I delve deeper into the results to be absolutely certain that my irregular heartbeat wasn’t dangerous. I have followed his advice and am waiting to hear back from my doctor.

Last week, I began something new and started reading other blogs under topics such as grief, divorce and loss. I discovered that reaching out helped me to feel less isolated. I made a few wonderful connections, and perhaps “wonderful” isn’t the best description. I was riveted by a blog where a mother and daughter were desperately coping with the daughter’s excruciating pain and impending death. It broke my heart and grounded me back to appreciation for my circumstances.

I believe that I was meant to read this blog; it has affected me greatly. I was drawn to it after seeing a picture of the daughter’s pain-filled eyes. Do not follow the link below, unless you are prepared to cry.

Below is a link to that blog:

Mommy can you feel how sore it is?

Two weeks ago, I performed at Kulak’s Woodshed on an open mic night.

This blog link is for “Doyle’s Widow.” It was heartbreaking for me to read this grieving woman’s words. Here are excerpts:


I reluctantly abandon my dreams—my dream of growing old with the man I love with all my heart, my dream of becoming a writer, my dream of happiness, and my dream of helping others. I buried the largest part of my dreams the day I buried him, but vestiges drift in the aura surrounding me. Those vestiges are slowly drifting away. I surrender to the dreamless existence, which offers only emptiness. I had such a big heart. I feel as though my heart is shrinking. I still feel, I still absorb the sadness of others around me, but I no longer feel that I am capable of helping them.

My dream of becoming a writer, while still looming around me, has died for the most part. So few people actually read what I write. A friend said it is because my writing is so depressing, but I do not believe that. My writing is just not as good as I thought. He was my biggest fan and his encouragement drove me. I read everything I wrote to him, regardless of how long. He would praise me and sometimes, even make suggestions. I am not a narcissist, but I admit that his devotion encouraged me to continue writing. Now, I suppose I write because I began writing as a little girl and believed it was my destiny. I do not believe that anymore. I am beginning to believe that my destiny was to have 20 years of bliss with the man I love, and then be plunged into darkness for atrocities I committed in previous lives. To endure this hell for the remainder of this life is my destiny.

I once thrived in helping others. I could often find the right thing to say or know just when to listen. Now, how can I help others when I cannot even help myself? All I am capable of now is absorbing their pain, but with no resolutions to absolving it. I have become useless. There it is—I have no purpose anymoreI merely exist.

I illustrated this as an exercise demonstration for an art student years ago.

I want to share an exchange with an Internet grief forum. It began with John comforting a fellow griever with a statement of “things will get better over time.” Jane responded and told John he couldn’t understand the depth of her pain – the loss of a child. What he was saying seemed like platitudes to her. John responded that he knew about pain because his grandfather had hung himself and his sister died when a truck crushed her. Jane wrote back to once again reiterate that although John meant well, he still couldn’t imagine the difference of losing a child.


On Nov 25, 2012, Jane wrote: 

Dear John, 
I am not making light of your grief. Grief hurts no matter how you put it. I know you miss your grandfather and sister and I am sure the pain is almost unbearable at times. The loss of your own child differs greatly from other family members. I have lost both of my parents, 2 in-laws, and my best friend, but all their losses together don’t even come close to the loss of my child. It is very difficult to explain but to see that little life you brought into this world, die in front of your own eyes is something I cannot deal with most days. I wish you comfort and peace in your losses but I hope you can understand losing a child is the worst possible pain. I would take any form of cancer or death for myself first, anytime, any day.

I don’t care what age your child dies; they are still your child, your baby, and your reason for life. It has been 20 months for me since I lost my 30-year-old son from Sudden Cardiac Arrest. Every day is different and some days I wish for my own death to take me to him. People often tell me “they understand.” I had one person tell me they understood as they recently lost a pet. I wanted to punch them. NO ONE understands unless they have been through the loss of their own child. Spouses, siblings, parents, those are different types of grief.

A somber watercolor I painted while I was in college.

From:     Judy Unger



On Nov 27, 2012, Judy Unger wrote:

Dear Jane,

There are people who die from their broken heart every day – that wish to join your dead son is a powerful one.


When my 5-year-old son died, I searched for understanding and sought out other bereaved parents. I was about as “grief-centric” as they come, certain that my grief was the worst in the world. No one could feel my anguish – I could hear my little boy calling “Mommy!” and I kept seeing his cold corpse in the ground. I wanted to bring him a blanket. His dead face filled my days and nights. I could barely go on.


I felt that even if parents had lost a child, they couldn’t understand my pain. I didn’t think a miscarriage or a stillbirth could compare to my level of grief. I even would have told you that it was easier for you losing your adult son – you had more memories to treasure. I had to deal with a room full of clothes and toys that tormented me; reminders of my loss.


I say this because all of those beliefs translated to extreme isolation. It didn’t comfort me or help with my pain. My son died of a heart defect. When I befriended a woman whose daughter died from the flu, she told me that her loss was worse because she had no preparation and I did!


Gradually, I opened up to understanding that there is a lot of pain in this world. In my own lifetime, I have grappled with other forms of grief. I had surviving children with special needs, sick parents and currently I’m going through a divorce. When I remember that I’ve had worse pain with the death of my son in the past, it minimizes my feelings and doesn’t give me permission to feel.


It may be true that the loss of a child is THE WORST. But no one can truly know another persons’ pain.


I want you to heal. Your pain is unbearable. It is worse than anyone else’s because no one else loved your son as you did. I look forward to the day when you’ll know that having THE WORST pain is over. It won’t be as horrible. Hang in there.


Love Judy

© Judy Unger and 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

About Judy

I'm an illustrator by profession. At this juncture in my life, I am pursuing my dream of writing and composing music. Every day of my life is precious!
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1 Response to PAIN LEFT A HOLE

  1. Luna Ulric-Taylor says:

    Dear Judy,
    There seems to be something mystical and pivotal about age 53 – for me it has been my re-emergence into Life. I have heard stories around me about those who, literally, met with sudden death only to find out they were 53!

    Hang in there and keep sharing your story, making your music and living your Life. I have been reading your blog and you are such a powerful inspiration! You have navigated this river of grief and have a tale to tell that is amazing and so supportive to those of us still on the river. I am not sure it is one we ever actually leave, but one we get better at riding.

    Blessings to you,


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