It’s been 500 days since the death of my life mate, my soul mate. It’s sounds pathetic, doesn’t it, to still be counting the days as if I’ve been crying endlessly for more than a year? But grief isn’t always about mourning. A great part of grief is trying to make sense of the senseless, trying to comprehend something the human mind is not geared to understand. Trying to find a way to continue despite the noncomprehension.
The agony and angst of the first months have passed, and I do still cry at times, but the tears come and go quite quickly. (The sadness, however, always remains.) I’m going through a waiting stage right now, letting everything I have experienced settle into my being. Other stages of grief are waiting for me, such as finding a new focus or finding the bedrock on which to rebuild my life. Even if those don’t seem like stages of grief, even if they aren’t accompanied by tears and tantrums, they are still part of the grieving process, still part of learning how to be whole again.
Most of us have grieved the death of a loved one, some of us have grieved many losses, but the loss of someone with whom you have spent every day for decades is especially hard to deal with. Every minute of every day after such a death, that person is absent from your life, and somewhere inside, you continue to search for him or her. I think of him way too much, trying to hold on to him, though I know I can’t do anything to keep him with me. He’s already gone. I yearn to talk with him once more, hear his voice, see his smile, and part of me cannot understand why he isn’t here, cannot make sense of his absence. Cannot understand forever.
People assure me I will see him again in an afterlife, but that is scant comfort. This is the life I have now. This is all I know. And this is the life I have to deal with. If it were just about my missing him, I could deal with that, but I feel sad that his life was cut short. That his dreams never came true and now they never will. Perhaps he is happily ensconced in a new life of radiance, but his death dimmed the light in this world. And this is what I cannot understand. He is gone. And I am still here.
I am filling my days, trying to make each one matter. I’ve been taking trips and making excursions, most recently to a fair (where I did not eat deep-fried Twinkies, deep-fried butter, or chocolate covered bacon, though such delicacies were offered). When my mate and I were together, whatever we did was part of our life, and each day, each event flowed into the seamless whole. Now that I am alone, events such as the fair seem like punctuation marks in my ongoing life rather than part of the text. Perhaps one day, when I’ve lived long enough, done enough, my life will feel like a seamless whole again.
Until then, I’ll continue to count the days of grief.
August 9, 2011 at 9:33 am
Another great article Pat. You do such an eloquent job of describing the pain we grievers continue to carry. I’m am at exactly half as many days from my loss as you are (250) and am in a deeper sadness now than 3 or 4 months ago. I don’t have a “Reset Button” that I can press to wipe out 54 years of marriage and start my life all over again. At my age, I see no way of living long enough to work through this horrible existence to see happier times. Maybe that’s a good thing because I’m tired of spending every day trying to get my mind on something else as I’m out doing things we should be doing together.
I’m always glad to read your words on the subect and to see that you have at least reached a couple of hurdles on the road to recovery (if we can ever call it that). Take very good care and best wishes.
August 9, 2011 at 9:24 pm
It’s good to hear from you again, Bob. This is such a hard and isolating journey (though it feels more like a treadmill than a journey) it’s good to be able to express one’s feelings occasionally. It does seem as if the sadness deepens the further away we get. Makes sense, actually, since we are further away! The goal of dealing with grief, apparently, is not getting over it, but managing it so that we can continue to live despite our sadness.Try to take care of yourself.
August 11, 2011 at 6:23 pm
I have often wished for a magic wand to erase peoples suffering and as I read your post Pat and Bobs response again I felt that wish. I do know that I have seen people lose life time partners and eventually hit a place where they are again grateful for and desire life. I also know this takes time and I know it’s an ugly journey but it is a journey to healing. Self-care, putting one foot in front of the other and being honest about how your feeling…despite the expectations…will lead to a better place than now.
With love and hope to you both
August 12, 2011 at 7:34 am
Thanks for including my comments in your reply leesis. It’s always nice to know other people care and are willing to take the time to offer encouragement. We can use all the support we can get to help us down this long road and to find that light at the end of the tunnel.
With much gratitude,
August 13, 2011 at 2:39 am
Hey Bob. I am so very sorry you are experiencing such terrible grief, so sorry you lost your wife. I hate that it is such a lonely journey for you both and for so many other people. There is healing and new light Bob and there are people who care. I hope you have someone to listen.
with kindest regards
December 11, 2016 at 6:37 pm
I am right around 500 days, although I don’t want to make the count for fear of agonizing over every day of sadness and loneliness. Church today gave me some inspiration as the sermon was about taking the unexpected (John’s confusion of Christ’s demeanor) and moving on with what lies ahead. There is a whole host of people in the congregation that have lost loved ones. That pain and suffering are everywhere. My circumstance is no different. Other people are in my shoes and I in theirs. This blog conveys that in spades. It doesn’t make my situation any easier, nor anyone else’s. It is with some sense of quiet perversion that I find myself comforted by others suffering. I guess it tells me that I am not the only one in such pain. Misery loves company. My focus this pm has been lighter and uplifting. We’ll see how long it lasts. Now that’s a negative, if realistic, thought. Trying to make progress.
December 11, 2016 at 9:10 pm
I don’t think it’s so much that you are comforted by other people’s pain. I think it’s that you are finding comfort in knowing you are not alone in your pain, knowing that someone else understands it. People who have not undergone such a devastating loss as yours will stare at you dumbfounded as if you’ve become an alien creature. It’s nice t get away from that, if only for a moment. And yes, it’s realistic (and mentally healthy) to know that you will again fall in grief’s black hole, though oddly, in my case, the upsurges of grief always came as shock or an affront. Also, hearing other people’s stories gives us hope that we, too, will move beyond the pain.
One of the saddest thing is that ‘making progress’ takes you further beyond your shared life, but what other choice do we who are left behind have?.
You’re doing fine. You seem to have a sensible approach to the completely senseless process of grief. Thank you for opening up to me. It’s a blessing for me to know that my words find a home.