Do you want to know the sum total of all I have learned in the fourteen months and fourteen days since my life mate died? Here it is: you can get through grief. You can learn to live without him. You can find happiness again by living one day at a time. But the dead are still dead, and nothing you do can ever change that.
That is what drives my grief. Not the self-pity that sometimes breaks through my wall of courage, not the sustained note of sadness that keens beneath my consciousness, but the awareness that he is gone. He no longer cares that he suffered for years with an ailment the doctors couldn’t diagnose until it was too late. He no longer cares that he will never again watch any of his favorite movies or read a book. He no longer cares that he will never go on another road trip. He no longer cares that he will never again walk or talk or eat or smile. But I care.
Perhaps it is foolish of me still to care for and about someone who is beyond caring, but I cared immensely for him while he was alive, so why would I stop now that he is dead? He may no longer have feelings, but I do. Once he was alive and now he is not. Why shouldn’t I care about that?
There are many books on the market about how to get through grief quickly, how to get your life back on track, how to put the dead out of your head and take what you can from life. I know there is an element of self-pity when it comes to grief, and those books address that issue. But self-pity is not all there is to grief. Grief is a vast network of emotional, spiritual, and physical reactions, and part of that is sorrow on behalf of the one who died.
If grief is just about me (and perhaps someday I’ll get to the point where it is only about me), then it’s not my place to care about my life mate being gone from this earth. But if life is worth living, how can I not care that it is being denied him?
The corollary is, if he is the one who got the better end of the deal, if he truly is in a better place, then why am I still here? But I’d just as soon not dwell on that.