Grief Has It’s Own Logic

Grief is not a gentle slope. It does not start at the top (or the bottom) and gradually diminish. It comes in peaks and valleys. And sometimes it comes when one least expects it. I was okay for a couple of days, successfully bypassing the minefields of memory — I’ve learned what of our things bring me comfort and what brings me pain — but then yesterday the grief spiked, and it’s as it was in the beginning.

It was such a silly thing that set off this new spate of grief. I washed our comforters, and as I was folding them and putting them in the zipper bags they came in, I thought how nice and fresh they will be when my lifemate and I get back together. Then it struck me — again — that he is gone. We’re not taking separate vacations, nor I am waiting for him to come home from the hospital, but apparently, somewhere in the back of my mind, that is what I believe.

One of my blog readers recommended Joan Didion’s book The Year of Magical Thinking, which was written the year after Joan’s husband died. My blog reader hoped the book would bring me the comfort that it brought her. And it did bring me the comfort of knowing that this illogical thinking, this magical thinking, is part of the grief process. Although Joan had no trouble getting rid of her husband’s clothes, she could not get rid of his shoes, because he might need them. Although I got rid of my mate’s car (I donated it to hospice, thinking that since I took him there, that is where his car should go) I could not get rid of his extra set of keys because he might need them. I got rid of brand new television but could not get rid of a pencil stub because the stub seemed so much like him — he used up everything, wasted nothing. I could not get rid of his eyeglasses, because how will he see without them?

I am not a bubbly, rose-colored glasses sort of person, but I always managed to find an “at least” in every situation, an “upside.” Until now. This is one time when there is no at least. (Yes, I know at least he is no longer suffering, but he shouldn’t have had to suffer in the first place.) There is no upside. I know I will eventually find my way to a new life, perhaps even happiness, but it does not change the fact that he is dead.

Every day I feel his absence. Every day, in some way, I try to rework the events of the past few months so that he really will return to me. But that is not going to happen in this lifetime. And so I trudge the hills of grief, and treasure the moments of comfort I find.

8 Responses to “Grief Has It’s Own Logic”

  1. sandielzinga Says:

    How very true. In the year after my husband died, I worked and reworked the fact that I wasn’t at his side the moment he died, trying to make the ending come out better.
    Sandi Elzinga
    GriefWalk: Hope Through The Dark Places

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Sandi, there are so many different aspects to grief, especially after the death of a soul mate, that I cannot believe any of us survive. And this reworking of the end seems to be one of those aspects. People do survive this dark place, though.

  2. joylene Says:

    Thinking of you.

  3. Jo Ann Williams Says:

    Pat: This is such an eloquent and moving post. Very real, very stark… and I have to say “beautiful” – although it’s so sad. I am curious: when you write something like this, does it flow out all at once? Or do you find yourself re-working words and phrases? I would imagine the very process of writing helps to clarify where you are in the process of grieving…? You are in my thoughts and prayers.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Jo Ann, writing like this mostly flows because I write as I feel, though I do rework a phrase occasionally to make the piece more readable. Oddly, I get caught up in the words at times and so get a rest from the emotion. Afterward, of course, the pain slams into me when I realize that what I am writing is real, and not a story I am telling myself.

  4. Holly Bonville Says:

    Pat, I have read several of your posts, and wish I could write about my feelings so eloquently. I am adjusting to life without my soul mate and partner too. Jake died in February after a 9 month long fight with cancer. I have days when things are ok, and then at the oddest times, I break down. I can’t talk about how I feel because I cry. I can talk about Jake for a limited amount of time, then I cry.
    We only had 10 years together, it took a long time to find each other. What we had was good, and we had plans to grow old together.
    I had no problem packing away his clothes, but like you, there are some things I just can’t get rid of.
    Anyway, I just wanted to say hi, and to also say how sorry I am that you are having to go thru this too.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Holly, my heart goes out to you, and so do my tears. Too many good people have died in the past few months, and the world cannot do without them, but it — and we — must. If you ever want to talk about Jack, (or rather write about him) stop by here any time. I will listen. And I will cry with you.

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