Putting a H.A.L.T. to Grief

It’s been eighteen months since my life mate — my soul mate — died of inoperable kidney cancer, and I’m still chugging along. I do okay most days, but still there are times when the thought that he is gone takes away my breath. His death was so final, his absence absolute. He never responds when I talk to him, never sits down to watch a movie with me, never seems to care when I get angry at him for rejecting me. (I know it’s not his fault, but still, death is the ultimate rejection.)

During this past year and a half, I’ve learned a lot about grief. I learned the importance of facing the pain head-on, accepting it as part of the process, and waiting for it to diminish, which mine has — significantly. I’ve learned how to find peace in the sorrow (or perhaps despite the sorrow). I’ve learned that grief cannot be hurried, that months or even years might pass before we bereft find ourselves again. And most of all, I’ve learned the secret of H.A.L.T.

People who make major life changes, such as alcoholics who give up drinking, smokers who give up cigarettes, diabetics who make diet and exercise changes are often urged to watch themselves so they don’t get Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. That’s what I mean by H.A.L.T. Did you think I actually meant putting an end to grief? You should know by now I’m letting grief wear itself out, whenever or however that might be.

Hunger, anger, loneliness, and exhaustion make us vulnerable, which makes it easy to backslide into old behavior patterns.  I recently noticed that grief often surges when I am tired, so I’ve been trying to steer clear of these vulnerabilites, but the trouble is that all of those states are effects of grief, so exhaustion and loneliness and anger causes grief and grief causes exhaustion, loneliness and anger. A sad cycle. But now that I’m aware of it, I can try to be more careful. Although I’m willing to let grief take its course, I have no intention of letting grief rule the rest of my life. I intend to be as bold and as adventurous as possible, a wildly inappropriate woman who just likes to have fun. But not quite yet. I still have some sadnesses to deal with.

5 Responses to “Putting a H.A.L.T. to Grief”

  1. leesis Says:

    what a great post Pat. So spot on. When we are suffering great trauma such as grief it is so essential that we pay particular attention to our self care; our diet, exercise, rest, self nuturing; ie taking particular care to doing those things that give us the most peace/rest/pleasure, our connections and so on. Your willingness to face grief head on combined with your openness to this eventually changing is the absolute epitome of good mental health in my view. Can’t wait to see the wildly inappropriate woman…thinking the shooter is a start 🙂

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Thank you, Leesa. I’m going to use part of this post for the afterward of my grief book. You’re probably right that I need to leave readers with a bit of the rebuilding process so as to leave them with hope, so this will at least show what I am doing during this second year.

  2. http://cluculzwriter.blogspot.com Says:

    Another moving post, Pat. I took your lead and I’m posting about my grief in a series of posts about my road to publication. I mentioned you in one titled Accepting the Journey. I should have asked first, but your name just came out. Hope that’s okay?

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Joylene, I am delighted that you used my name, and even more delighted that you’re talking about your grief. I hope it brings you a small measure of peace. You deserve it.

  3. Terry Says:

    I know that my soul mate is as i believe in life as i know she would be in death. My grieving would be terminal, my soul crushed beyond redemption. Would then she feel the same? Would i wish this on her? Never. Grieving starts not at the moment of death, but at the moment of realization.

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