Grief Update

It’s been three weeks since my lifemate died. I feel as if I am in an emotional whirlpool, spinning round and round, never quite knowing where I am or where I am going. I have days of relative calm where I can be glad he is finally at peace, then something happens to remind me of  my loss, and grief pulls me under. Most recently, I was cleaning photos out of my computer when I came across an image of him I didn’t know I had. (We did not take pictures of each other, so the only other photo I have was taken 15 years ago, and it does not look like him at all.) Last August, we took a trip to the north rim of the Black Canyon. (It’s only 20 miles away, but because of the bad road, it might as well have been 200.) The photo I found is of him, alone in that desolate place, with his back to me, looking at . . . eternity, perhaps.

I never expected to grieve so much. He was sick for so long and in such pain that we didn’t have much of a life together the past year or two. I struggled to live while he was dying and thought I succeeded, but nothing prepared me for this total devastation. It turns out that all of it, the good and bad, was part of our life together. In the movie Three to Tango is a film clip of a movie I have never seen — I think it’s Of Human Bondage.  The woman in the clip asks: “Will we be happy?” He answers, “No, but does it matter?” And, for us, it didn’t matter, at least where each other was concerned. We were connected, no matter what. And now that connection is broken. And I feel that I am broken, too.

I know someday I will find my way again. I know someday I will be able to laugh, to find joy in living again. I know that someday I might even find a new love. But for now, I don’t know how to be.

Hospice hosts a grief support group, and I’m thinking of going. If he were alive, I would never consider it — we were always each other’s support group. But if he were alive, I would not be grieving.

I hesitated about posting this — I do not want people to feel I am soliciting sympathy — but this is a writer’s blog, and what is writing if not life?

11 Responses to “Grief Update”

  1. joylene Says:

    Writing about it can’t be bad. At least I refuse to believe that. I wasn’t able to blog about losing our sons. I still can’t. I can barely talk about their passing and it’s been 3 years for Jody and 19 years for Jack. I don’t want to scare you, but three weeks isn’t a very long time in relations to what will come. You have all the firsts to go through. The first anniversary without him. The first birthday, first July 1st, first Thanksgiving, first Christmas. That’s why I recommended grief counselling because they teach you the tools to get through all these firsts.

    Pat, it’s like the old story of the being pregnant and every women around you promises the experience of giving birth will be the most important and most beautiful experience you’re ever going to experience. But they forget to tell you it’ll feel as if you’re being split in two. Literally.

    There will be times when your heart is so full of joy because you realize how blessed you were to love and be loved. And then there will be those days when you cannot function at even the easiest tasks like cooking supper or making your bed because your entire body hurts so bad all you want to do is scream.

    Sadly, after everyone else goes back to their lives and expect you to go back to yours, there will be this underlying rage just below the surface. You’ll feel it there and have no place to put it. And months, years will pass and someone says, “Pat, are you okay? You don’t seem yourself.”

    Writing is exactly what you should be doing. I think. Writing and blogging are God sent.

  2. Carol J. Garvin Says:

    Right now I’m sure those “somedays” seem a very long way off!

    You’ve mentioned knowing about the different stages of grief, and I expect you may have read Kubler-Ross’s book, “On Death and Dying”. Grief definitely is a process and she explains it very well, but I think everyone’s experience of loss and grief is unique. So much depends on the relationship you had with the deceased, your understanding of eternity, and the support you have during recovery.

    Also, Richard Mabry is a retired doctor who wrote “The Tender Scar” after the death of his first wife. I haven’t read it, but it may be of interest to you. He has a link to the book on his website ( and also a link to an excerpt from it. He is now also writing medical suspense fiction.

    I encourage you to attend that grief support group. Any assistance you can find to help with coping skills has to be good. And being with others who understand at least a little of what you’re going through may be a comfort. And by all means keep writing. I’ve always found getting the emotions out via words on paper where they can be seen is extremely therapeutic. There’s nothing worse than keeping them bottled up inside!

  3. Sheila Deeth Says:

    How beautifully said – but if he were alive, you would not be grieving. I will keep your words in mind for a time when I or a friend might need them, and your writing will give comfort. Thank you. And I hope you do go to that group, for what you can give as well as for what you can receive. I’m so sorry for your loss doesn’t cover it, but I am. And three weeks is such a short time emotionally.

  4. Pat Bertram Says:

    Thank you, Joylene, Carol, and Sheila. I know three weeks is barely any time at all, but part of me thinks I should be getting over it by now, or at least getting used to the feeling of amputation. In fact, my surges of grief are getting stronger and lasting longer. I am generally fairly stoic, but this experience has knocked the stoicism right out of me. I had no idea I could be ruled by so much emotion. I truly do not understand how anyone survives this. But I know they do, and so will I.

    • joylene Says:

      It’s a cliche, but time wears away the shock. And the shock cloaks you in protection for a time so you can do what needs to be done. And the shock wears off so you can eventually function in the world instead of just floating through it.

      Grief is a deeply personal journey. But it’s not one you have to go alone, Pat. Sheila is so right. You don’t realize it now, but you will help others as they will help you. It’s not so much how you help, but the actually helping.

  5. L.V. Gaudet Says:

    Baby steps Pat, baby steps.

    It’s good that you can write about it, and even better that you can share it. Nothing is more lonely than grief.

    Grief is the one thing that cannot truly be shared or understood. Even those that have been through it can only guess at what you are going through. But expressing and sharing will help you learn to live with it.

    Once that grief touches you, even for the briefest moment, you live with it for life and are forever changed by it. Grief has no deadline. Whether you grieve and move on within weeks, months, or years, it is your own grief to own and to learn to live with in however long it takes you.

  6. B. Pine Says:

    I am so sorry about your loss. My Father died April 2009, 3 months before my parent’s 40th wedding anniversary. He was sick with cirrhosis for a long time, but his passing was still devastating for my mother. She is beginning to come out of her grief now, after a bit over a year, but I can tell that she is still lost in many ways. And your writings sound so much like what Mom went through those horrible first months.

    There is not much more I can add in addition to all the other comments you have received, but I would like to urge you to please join a support group. Not only does it help you to have people going through similar experiences, but it helps them as well. Strength in numbers. And keep in mind that your grief is yours, and there is no ‘I should be feeling this by now’. You grieve in your own way and take all the time you need, be it a month or a decade.

  7. Joseph Says:

    I am very sorry to hear about your loss, know that you are in my prayers during this difficult time….

  8. MarthaE Says:

    I came for Blogmania but my scroll took me here first. Don’t feel afraid to share your grief. We do not know each other but I felt your pain which you express very eloquently. My prayers will be with you for comfort and strength. As the author said in God Never Blinks – give time time to heal.

  9. Carol Says:

    Yesterday marked 3 weeks since my fiance’s death. Your words are exactly what I’m feeling, and it brings me such comfort to know that I am not the only one in the world who has ever felt this way. You see, your words, they weren’t for nothing. They helped you to give your feelings and emotions an outlet, and now they are helping me as well.

    Even though we’d been together for 10 years, since we were not married yet, the world doesn’t see me as a widow. But, I feel like a widow. I’ve lost my best friend. I’ve lost my partner whom I shared every day with. I’ve lost my love (that is what I always called him, “my love”). People say well you WEREN’T married so you are NOT a widow. I don’t have any legal rights. I didn’t have any say as to what happened to his body. But, just because we were not legally married, we were married in our hearts already.

    I, too, thought I should be getting better by now, but instead it’s just getting worse. Thank you for sharing your grief so that I can get through mine.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Carol, I am so sorry. People don’t understand that there can be a connection deeper than any public vow. You might not legally be a widow, but for all practical purposes, you are. You have lost so much. It feels like an amputation, doesn’t it? Be patient with yourself. Three weeks is a mere blip in the world of grief. And yes, it keeps getting worse for several weeks. I don’t know why grief is like that after the loss of a mate, but it is. And it takes a long time before you can find happiness again. I am mostly okay, but I still miss him (always will), and sometimes, like last night, I still cry myself to sleep.

      If you ever need to talk, stop by. I promise to answer.

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