A New Pattern of Grief

I’ve lived ninety-three Saturdays since the death of my life mate/soul mate. Of course, I’ve lived ninety-three of each of the other days, too, but Saturday is the day I cross the Rubicon. (Or do I mean it’s the day I meet my Waterloo?) Either way, it continues to be my sadder day, the day he died, the day I always have an upswing of grief.

People think that by counting these sadder days I am steeping myself in grief, when the truth is, the sadness comes even before I know what day it is. Something deep inside of me is counting the weeks of this new life of mine. I’m sure there will come a time when first one Saturday passes without an extra burst of melancholy, and then another, and eventually my internal datekeeper will forget the day ever had a special meaning.

But not yet.

I truly thought I’d be done with grief by now. I’ve had several periods of relative stasis where I felt as if I’d moved beyond the sorrow, but so far, my grief has always returned, and it will probably continue to return for many months to come. It seems as if this process takes three to five years. Most people I’ve talked to who lost a mate say it took them four years to find the joy of living again. My twenty-one months, in comparison, falls way short of that.

Lately, a new pattern has been emerging. After a grief burst, there is a backwash of serenity, an acceptance of life as it now is, a determination to deal with my remaining years as best as I can. I even start thinking about the future, trying to imagine things I might try or places I might go. My mind drifts and I wonder how he will like those things or places. Then I realize . . . again . . . that he is dead, and grief washes over me.

I feel like a not very bright child who keeps running into a wall because she can’t quite understand her inability to pass through to the other side. For me, his total goneness from this life is my wall. I don’t understand death, don’t think our brains are wired to understand it, yet I keep running into his goneness as if somehow I think the solidity of it will dissolve under my attack. Not very bright of me, is it?

I don’t live in the past. I remember our shared life, of course, but mingled with the good memories are too many recollections of his suffering, which makes the past an unpleasant place to dwell. Or to dwell on. Nor can I bear to think of a future where he has no place, and so I live in the present. But I make note of my sadder Saturdays to prove to myself that yes, I can do this. I can live in a future without him. Ninety-three weeks ago, these Saturdays were all in the future and now they are all in the past. I lived them, and I’ll continue to live and count my Saturdays.

My main problem is that even though I know I can do this — living without him — I still have a problem figuring out why I would want to. But the reason will come. It has to.

11 Responses to “A New Pattern of Grief”

  1. workingtechmom Says:

    I’m not sure you are ever ‘done with grief’. Your thoughts touched me today and resonated with the post I just wrote. I am sending you good vibes to get “through” it. You are obviously strong, and thoughtful, and missing someone who deserves to be missed. Try to pick one thing he would love for you to do, and then do it and think of him bringing the good from the past and moving it into the future.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Thank you. The one thing he wanted for me was to get back to being as spontaneous as I used to be, but I can’t do that yet since I’m taking care of my 95-year-old father. But one day, I plan to be more spontaneous. (Irony intented.)

  2. Mary Friedel-Hunt Says:

    “My main problem is that even though I know I can do this — living without him — I still have a problem figuring out why I would want to. But the reason will come. It has to.”

    I hope you are right. I have yet to find it (the reason)….I do believe I will grieve the loss of my Bill as long as I am here…93 Saturdays or 1500 of them.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      It’s interesting you would mention 1500 Saturdays. I had intended to put that in the post as the approximate number of Saturdays I have left, assuming I live to be near my parents’ ages, but it seemed to depressing to be counting Saturdays forward. Sometimes his death isn’t real at all, and other times the reality of it slinks up on me, leaving me totally bewildered.

      • Joy Collins Says:

        It’s very hard to think of the future. It just kind of yawns in front of me. I try to put things out there to look forward to but they all fall flat. John and I enjoyed even the simplest of things together but they were fun because we were doing it together. So many times we told each other “I love my life.” and we meant it. Our life was so good because we had each other. Now it’s just …life. Today marks 85 weeks for me. But it still feels like it just happened. The grief overwhelms me at times. It will never be OK that John is gone. And if I stop and think about the true reality of what John’s gone-ness means I feel as if I will break apart. The sadness is so deep.

        • Pat Bertram Says:

          I used to worry that our great cosmic love devolved into the trivialities of life, like doing chores together, or fixing meals together, but now I know that’s where great love resides. Now a chore is simply a chore, and meal preparation is nothing special.

  3. Holly Bonville Says:

    Still looking for a reason and a purpose too. I want something to look forward to instead of just existing.

  4. Mary Friedel-Hunt Says:

    I have attempted also to put things in my life that I might look forward to…and then…they come up empty…flat…even sad. Bill is not there…and that IS still shocking….I am frequently filled with disbelief after almost 22 months. I doubt it will ever change. No one will ever related to me (nor I to whoever) the way he and I did. It is a closed book that I carry right next to my heart.

    • workingtechmom Says:

      I agree…so make sure that your goal is not to find someone to relate to you the way he did. That doesn’t mean you can’t find someone to relate to you in a way that is positive and kind and loving and real. (and different than Bill) Take care of yourself. You are worth it.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I’ve done many things since he died, trying to fill the emptiness, and I liked them okay, but there is nothing beyond that. No momentum or cumulation of enjoyment. It’s more like rocks being dropped on sand.

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