I’ve had this problem a bit, especially with a family member who reads my stories. I’m told they’re kinda depressing and heavy sometimes.
I’ve found three things are important:
1) Writing the stories we feel called to write. For instance, I have a really hard time writing children’s stories. I just enjoy asking really deep and difficult questions in my writing, especially in my novels. It’s just what I like doing, and if people don’t like that I don’t write much lighter stuff, then I’m probably not the best writer for them to read. And that’s okay. Everyone has different tastes.
2) Being aware of why we’re writing stories the way we are. How much brokenness and depravity do I need to show in order to get my point across? What kind of story am I writing? Can I make the same point with less graphic descriptions or a less heavy mood? Darker stories aren’t necessarily more powerful stories. Like Zee was saying, finding your target audience is important, and so is making sure everything in your writing has a purpose.
3) Adding some lighter moments to your stories. Having a really heavy mood for an entire story can be difficult, especially if it’s a novel (you can mostly get away with in a short story, though). While real life can be dark, people still laugh, still make jokes, still do awkward things. Having jokes in the wrong place can make things more morbid, but weaving in some bright patches to otherwise dark stories is always a good idea. It sounds like you already did that with your ending!
I don’t know if you’ve read Flannery O’Connor, but I think she does a really good job with this. Her stories are pretty serious, and play around with a lot of satire and irony, but somehow she hooks you so much that you read to the end no matter how bizarre or seemingly depressing the story is.
I hope that helps! It’s a great question 🙂
"Beauty will save the world." - Dostoevsky