I Am a Ten-Month Grief Survivor

I mentioned to someone the other day that it’s been ten weeks since the death of my life mate and that I didn’t know how I managed to survive that long, then it hit me. It hasn’t been ten weeks. It’s been ten months. How is it possible to live almost a year with half your heart ripped out? I still don’t know, but I do the only thing I can: live.

After the nine-month mark, I had a respite from grief. I liked the symmetry of nine months of grief (gestation) before being born into a new life, but as happens with grief, the respite was merely that — a respite. A couple of weeks ago, the need to see my mate one more time grew so great it felt as if the yearning would explode from my body like the creature in Alien. The feeling came and went for a while, and now the creature has gone back into hibernation. But still, the yearning lingers.

I’m learning to live with the remnants of my grief. From others who have also borne such a loss, I’ve come to understand this is the next phase of grief — not soul-destroying pain as at the beginning, but blips of varying intensity and frequency. I know I can deal with this new stage of grief because I have been dealing with my grief all along, but still, a part of me rebels at the necessity.

Planning signifies hope and is supposed to be a sign of healing. Strangely (or perhaps not strangely; perhaps it’s to be expected ) every time I make plans, I have an upsurge of grief. Plans take me further away from him and our life. They remind me of similar things we did together, and they tell me that from now on, he won’t be sharing new experiences with me. Still, I am not holding myself back. I need to fill the hole he left behind, and new experiences are one way of doing that.

In the past four months I’ve gone to various art galleries. I’ve seen Mesoamerican antiquities, aristocratic clothing through the ages, local artists, classic art work. I went to a wild life sanctuary where they take care of captive-bred animals that zoos don’t want. I went to the beach. In May, I’ll be going to a writer’s conference where I’ll be a speaker.

All this shows that I’m moving on, and yet . . .

And yet he’s still gone. That goneness is something I struggle with — how can he be dead? I wanted his suffering to be over, so I was relieved when he died, but somehow I never understood how very gone he would be. I don’t want him to be gone, but he’s not coming back, and there is not a damn thing I can do about it.

8 Responses to “I Am a Ten-Month Grief Survivor”

  1. Carol Ann Hoel Says:

    You found the perfect photo that shows a long, dark, unattractive trail leading to a destination unseen. Thank you for sharing your grieving experience with us. There will be sunshine at the end of your trail; I believe it. I think you believe it, too. Keep traveling on. Blessings to you, Pat…

  2. Holly Bonville Says:

    “I wanted his suffering to be over, so I was relieved when he died, but somehow I never understood how very gone he would be.”

    Pretty much says it all right there. February 26th, Jake will have been gone a year. Seems like a lifetime ago, and just yesterday.

  3. Harold Rutherford (Pat) Yeary Says:

    I lost my eighteen year old perfect son. I had two experiences that led to my healing. I believe in God´s Word. I opened my Bible and it landed on Wisdom 4, a book I had never read and God told me that He had taken my son out of his evil environment to protect his soul from coruption. Then, a man sent by God embraced me, kissed me and told me that my son is alive because Jesus lives and he told me that his daughter lives because Jesus lives. And then he told me the prescription for tranforming my life, “Go and tell this same message to someone whom God will reveal to you who has also lost a child. He told me I would have to do it eighty or a hundred times, but I would heal. I did it and am still continuing to do it but God moved me to a new environment which He has used to purge all the lies that I had come to believe about Health Care. What we testify to others changes our nature. God bless you and heal you through your testimony. Pat Yeary, a missionary for the truth in living system science.

  4. joylene Says:

    While my faith has been tested twice, I think in the end you survive because you want to. If you don’t, nothing, not even God can change your mind. The critical first year is almost over, Pat. It’s not smooth sailing from here, but it’s not unknown territory either. God Bless.

  5. Elizabeth Towns Says:

    I have lost so many, most recently and profoundly my brother in law to senseless murder..and that on the job. Some days it is as if it was yesterday, so I understand the ten weeks vs. ten months scenario. I loved the comments thus far because they have been part of the sum of my own journey to healing…help somebody else, read the holy Bible and let the Spirit of God comfort, plan. I learned a lot of that at Griefshare, which is available across the nation. I was with a like minded group of people who had lost someone and we alighted on the journey of healing with help in understanding. I recommend it to anyone who dares to want to heal, and not forget, who and why they loved. Griefshare.com…I am a survivor.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I’m always pleased to meet another survivor. The journey is so difficult that we need to know others have survived it to give us the courage to live despite the pain.

  6. Gregory Frost Says:

    That’s one hard journey that at least half of us will all have to make. I can only say from experience that even when you think you’re over it, there’s a subterranean current that flows out of sight; and maybe that’s the part of us that’s forever linked to the one we’ve lost, the part that transforms us and the part that keeps them alive in us. As a writer, I know that coming back from that changes things, alters writing, perceptions, in ways you cannot prepare for; and the only answer is, let it all come and embrace it for what it is.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Thank you, Gregory. Every time I think I’m back to normal, something happens to let me know things will never be “normal” again. I don’t feel different, but I think differently. And I’m still just in the early stages of this journey.

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