Grieving the End of This Year

I’ve been doing well, continuing on with my life after the death of my life mate/soul mate, and then suddenly, here I am, awash in tears again. I had no idea why this would be so, until I found out that so many others in my grief age group — those whose mates died in 2010 — are also going through an upsurge of grief. And now I know what triggered the tears, though I don’t know why.

The body/mind/soul remembers dates, anniversaries, emotional occasions long after the conscious mind has forgotten, which is why I know when Saturday (the day of his death) is coming around again — I can feel the sadness creeping up on me the day before. He died late Friday night or early Saturday morning depending on how you look at it, and my body seems to look at it both ways. But this upsurge in sadness has nothing to do with Friday or Saturday, or even with Christmas.

For those in my grief age group, this was our second Christmas without our loved ones. It was harder this year for some of us than our first Christmas without, perhaps because the truth is settling into our souls, and we know there will never be another Christmas with them no matter how much we yearn for it. (For this very reason, the second year of grief is sometimes harder than the first. The physical and psychical pain isn’t as great, but the emotional shock that protected us has worn off and the truth that they are never coming back has taken root along with a great clawing yearning to see them one more time.)

We’ve survived most of our firsts — the first birthday without, the first summer, the first Halloween, the first Thanksgiving, the first anniversary of their death — and now one more first is almost upon us. We are coming to the end of the first full calendar year without them.

Why would this ending be an occasion for an upsurge of grief? I don’t know. It’s particularly strange for me since I don’t see anything special about a new year — it’s such an arbitrary date — but apparently my internal datekeeper has made a note of it. And now I am grieving the end of this year, this first full calendar year without him.

13 Responses to “Grieving the End of This Year”

  1. Namaste Consulting Inc Says:

    For some, it’s not the first year that is painful but the second in that they are not as numb. People almost feel a “certainty” that it’s not a dream and that the person they love will no longer be physically with them.
    We go through so much that first year — body, mind, and soul — and we have survived the firsts of everything but now we ask, “I got through the first time. How am I going to get through the rest of them (holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, etc).”
    There is also research that suggests that around 18 months is another big wave of grief for many people. It was tough to work for hospice knowing all of this. Sometimes I felt like I wasn’t there when the pain was going to get tougher or at least change for the bereft.
    Nice blog

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I didn’t know ahead of time about the eighteen month upsurge, so it caught me by surprise. I had just gotten to a point where I thought I had a handle on my grief, and then WHAP!! Eighteen months came, and with it a huge wave of grief. I couldn’t figure out at first what was happening, because 18 months didn’t seem as if it meant anything, at least not like a year or two years.

      And you’re so right about getting through the first year. It takes all you have to get through the days, the weeks, the months, then comes the first anniversary. You get through it, and then the truth hits that it’s only the first year. He’s still dead, you’re still alone, and life stretches ahead of you like a bleak desert landscape and you know there is no way out. I don’t know how any of us get through this, but we do. Sort of.

  2. Mary Friedel-Hunt Says:

    Oh, Pat you speak for me and so many. My tears, like yours, have been flowing today. I made it through Christmas without wailing but today…my body/mind/soul is telling me I need to weep about this loss…about it getting further and further away from the day I lost him. I don’t want it to get further away. I fear that….New Year’s day means nothing to me but yet it does mean a year of memories he will never share and has never shared. So so hard.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      You’d think I’d be used to all these crags on the road through grief, but they always take me by surprise because — well, how was I to know the datekeeper made a note of this date? The problem is and will always remain that he is dead. I keep asking him if he likes being dead, but he doesn’t respond. The silence is absolute.

  3. Namaste Consulting Inc Says:

    Reblogged this on Namaste Consulting Inc. and commented:
    Pat has a great on-going dialogue about her grief in her blog. I posted a comment to today’s post. Check it out.

  4. Joy Collins Says:

    Oh, Pat…once again you have gotten it so right.
    The 18 month mark – yes, that was extremely hard.
    The finality settling in – that is awful.
    And now coming up on the end of a whole year that John and I have never experienced physically together. Last year I could look back and say that we had been together for part of that year but not this year. This year we have not had any time together, not one day. And not next year. Or any year after that.
    My soul is still waiting for this to be over. For someone to come and say “You did the grieving right and now it’s over and you get your reward – John is here again.”
    But that’s never going to happen and each time the realization hits, it hits hard.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Joy, that’s the truth of it, isn’t it? All the grieveing, trying to do it right, trying to process the past so you can face the future — none of it will ever bring them back. It seems odd, in a way, that we are going through so much of the same thing. Grief is so personal, and yet the patterns keep repeating themselves.

      I looked forward to the first anniversary of his death, as if it were a magical line, and something wonderful lay on the other side. Either I would have passed my test and he would have come back, or I would have become so wise and enlightened that it didn’t matter. Neither happened, and so I was doomed to a second year of grief. Now that my second anniversary is coming up (in three months), I dread it. I know nothing lays on the other side but the beginning of my third year without him.

      As hard as it is dealing with his absence and the loneliness, the hardest thing is that he is dead. I cannot fathom that, and now I doubt I ever will be able to.

  5. Mary Friedel-Hunt Says:

    The fact that Bill has died is shocking every time the thought of it enters my mind. I still, after 21 months, feel dazed by it….tearful this holiday week….

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Will we get used to it eventually, do you think? Or will we always feel the shock at the realization that they are dead?

      • Joy Collins Says:

        I thought the shock would wear off, too. But every time I think about it – allow myself to REALLY think about it – it’s UN-believable. I am coming to the realization that I will never ever get used to it and it will always be a shock. Always be hard to fully understand and assimilate.

        • Pat Bertram Says:

          I’m coming to that same realization — that the realization will always come as a shock. I image what will happen as the years pass, that we either won’t allow ourselves to really think about it or that continued life will keep us from thinking about it very often. But always, when we do think about it, we will feel shock. It doesn’t make sense. It is unbelievable.

      • Mary Friedel-Hunt Says:

        I suspect there will days, fewer over time, when it still shocks us and takes our breath away….

  6. Mary Friedel-Hunt Says:

    I think I will think of Bill every single day for the rest of my life…many times each day….36 years does not go away easily. I will miss him until I join him. I just know that.

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