Grief Update: A Yearning as Deep as the Black Canyon

I haven’t been writing much about grief lately. Partly I’ve been trying to keep an upbeat attitude so I can focus on promoting my new book, Light Bringer, which was published on the anniversary of my soul mate’s death, and partly I haven’t wanted to admit how much his being gone still hurts. It seems a bit pathetic since there are so many earthshaking and earthquaking events happening in the world today, and it has been more than a year since he died (a year and fifteen days to be exact). I am doing okay, but I still feel his absence from the earth, still miss him, still yearn for one more word or one more smile.

Fridays and Saturdays are particularly hard. He died at 1:40 am on a Friday night (which made the actually date a Saturday) and my body can’t decide which day is the right time to mourn, so my upsurge of grief spans both days. I say my body can’t decide, because there is an element of physicality to grief, especially when it comes to the death of someone who shared more than three decades of your life. You feel his absence in your cells, in your marrow, in your blood. I can sometimes feel (or imagine I feel) his vibes still surrounding the things he used, the things we shared. I find myself stupidly hugging a dish before I use it, remembering him eating off that plate.

Most of our stuff is packed away because of my temporary living arrangements. Yesterday, I felt a moment of panic when I realized that eventually I would unpack and begin using our household goods, and I would feel his energy permeating them. Usage will dissipate that energy, but for now, it’s still there. Perhaps when I need those items, the psychic remnants of him will bring me comfort, the way using a few of our things bring me comfort now, but it could just as easily set off a whole new strata of pain.

But I won’t — can’t — think of that. It still takes almost everything I have just to get through the days, to concentrate on this day. I can live today. What is one day without him when we had so many? I am most at peace when I forget that he is dead, when somewhere in the far reaches of my mind I feel that he is back in the house we shared, waiting for me. It’s not that I can’t live without him. I can. It’s that the world is such an alien place now that he is gone. I still remember how right the world felt when I met him. I had no expectations of having any more of him than that first relationship of customer (me) and storeowner (him), but back then, just knowing a person such as he existed made the world a more radiant place. When he died, he took the radiance with him.

It’s sort of odd, but I can’t identify that specific quality of radiance he brought to my life. He was sick for so very long, we gradually untwinned our lives, he to dying, me to aloneness. And yet, that connection, that depth, that radiance remained until the end. In his last weeks we even found a renewed closeness, a renewed commitment, but before that, we endured months, maybe years of unhappiness.

And, childishly, I am still unhappy. I want what I cannot have. I try to find in myself the radiance (the center? the heart? the home? — whatever it was that he gave me). I will need that to keep me going through the coming decades, and I fear I am not enough. At times, I think I have depths enough to plumb, other times those depths seem an illusion, an opaqueness that masks my shallows.

But what isn’t shallow is how much I miss him. That yearning is as deep as the Black Canyon.

10 Responses to “Grief Update: A Yearning as Deep as the Black Canyon”

  1. Jan Says:

    I totally agree that the world is an alien place. Because he’s gone, because part of me went with him, because only a few others can relate to this altered life I’m living; the list is long. I live here, but it’s not my world anymore.

    Like you, the most comforting moments are when I am not aware he’s gone. It’s peaceful during those brief seconds of amnesia upon waking in the morning or during a day so hectic I forget to remember.

    Peace and comfort to you. As always, you are in my thoughts.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Jan, and you are in my thoughts. What a terrible journey we share! But it is good to know someone understands. I hate that he’s gone. I wish he were back at home, happy and healthy. Even if I could never be with him again, to know he was still in this world would make it a more hospitable place.

  2. Becke Martin/Davis Says:

    This is so beautiful, Pat, it makes me want to cry. Instead, I’m going to go hug my husband!

  3. Joy Collins Says:

    Dear Pat,
    You have said exactly what I am feeling. No one except another traveler on this horrible road can fully understand the depths of this sorrow, this ache. Yes, there is a physicality to grief. Just like there is a physicality to love.
    My love died during the night between Sunday and Monday and I also have trouble with that time. Unlike you I had no time to prepare though. We had no idea it was his time. I just awoke in the middle of the night to find him gone. There is a part of me that still can’t comprehend this although it is starting to sink in. It is not quite a year for me but what is a year compared to the 32 years that we shared? Yet the years together flew by and now the [almost] year without him seems to go on forever.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Joy, I don’t know which is worse, watching a loved one dlie slowly over a period of years, or having him die without warning, but the result is the same — that uncomprehending grief.

  4. joylene Says:

    People die every day, you’d think we’d be used to it by now. I have always envied people who have strong faith and can smile through adversity. I don’t know how they do it. Sure if you saw me on the street, you’d think, What a pleasant person. But I’m faking it, Pat. And maybe the trick is to fake it long enough that even you begin to believe it.

    Sorry, I’m having a dark day. But I surely do appreciate your posts.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I’m having a dark day, too. Very disheartened by life.

      According to my grief group, the purpose of dealing with grief is so that you can deal with everyday life and your everyday obligations, and we both seem to be able to do that. If it weren’t for this blog, no one would ever know. I think you’re right about faking it.

      I know what you mean about people with strong faith. I envy their belief that they will see their loved ones again, their certainly that the dead still live. For me, it’s about getting through the days, the months, the years. Oddly, he wasn’t the first of the deaths in my life. My brother died about four years ago, and then a year late, my mother died, but neither of those deaths prepared me for the loss of my soul mate.

      You are always in my thoughts, Joylene. I appreciate so much what you have shared of your life. It probably didn’t help you, but it sure helped me.

  5. cheryl Says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I lost my husband 3 months ago to the day. He was in chemo and radiation and then hospice for one year. This coming weekend would have been our 40th wedding anniversay. Instead, we are having the cemetery service because the headstone is finally done. Only someone that has been through something like this can understand. I’ve maked your blog in my favorites and will be reading your information often. You have put my feelings into words.


    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Oh, Cheryl, I am so very sorry. I wish none of us ever had to feel this way. It’s a terrible thing, dealing with such a loss. I’m sure people tell you the same thing they told me, that at least he’s not suffering any more. But they shouldn’t have had to suffer in the first place.

      Sending you hugs and tears. If you ever need to talk, I’m here.

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