The Five Major Challenges We Face During the Second Year of Grief

The challenges we face during the first year after the death of a life mate/soul mate (or any other significant person), are too great to enumerate. It’s all we can do to cope with the seemingly endless chores of laying our beloved to rest while dealing with the emotional shock, the physical pain, the psychological affront. Sometimes the first anniversary of his death is one of peace when we realize that we managed to survive the worst year of our life, but then we wake up to the second year and find a whole other set of challenges to meet.

These seem to be the five major challenges to face during the second year of grief:

1. Trying to understand where he went. We can understand that he is out of our lives (even though we don’t like it), but we cannot understand his total goneness from this earth. No matter what we do, how we feel, or what we believe, it doesn’t change the fact that he is dead. And there is nothing we can do about it.

2. Living without him — we can do it, we’ve proved that during the past months, but we still have a problem figuring out why we would want to.

3. Dealing with continued grief bursts. Though we do okay most of the time, and though we fulfill our daily responsibilities quite capably, upsurges of grief still hit us, sometimes right on schedule (such as my sadder Saturdays), and sometimes for no reason at all. Sometimes they last for days (such as the upsurge of grief most of us felt this New Year’s Eve) and sometimes they last for mere minutes. But always, just when we think we can handle it, grief returns and we feel as if he just died.

4. Finding something to look forward to rather than simply existing. The second years seems to be a limbo, a time of waiting though we don’t seem to be waiting for anything. We’re just . . . waiting.

5. Handling the yearning. So many people who try to explain grief get it wrong. It’s not about going through five or seven or ten stages of grief. It’s about yearning for one more smile, one more word, one more hug from the person who was everything to us. The first year of yearning was hard, but somehow many of us had the strange idea that this was some sort of test and that after we passed the test, he’d pop back into our lives and we’d go on as before. Well, now we know this is no test. It’s the real thing. And there is nothing protecting us from that great clawing yearning.

Making a list is easy. Meeting the challenges of the second year of grief is hard, but maybe we succeed simply by living, by dealing with each day as it comes.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

143 Responses to “The Five Major Challenges We Face During the Second Year of Grief”

  1. Mary Friedel-Hunt Says:

    Pretty well sums it up…there are other challenges of course, some unique to each person, some we share…bottom line is year 2 is very difficult in a different way than year 1…I can’t even think about year 3.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I was filling in my new calendar with dates, such as when taxes and insurance payments are due, and I noticed that last year I marked the year-and-a-half anniversary. I was going to mark the two-and-a-half-year anniversary on this years calendar, but I couldn’t do it. It just seemed incomprehensible, and I got that stepping-off-the-curb-into-nothingness feeling. For some reason, just the thought of that date made his death seem even more permanent. LIke you, I can’t even think about the third year.

  2. Holly Bonville Says:

    And don’t forget the nights…the dreams, the sleeplessness, all of which make they days even more challenging. Sometimes it is a challenge just to make it thru the day. I wonder where all my energy went and if I will get any of it back.

  3. Elaine Garverick Says:

    I quit smoking cigarettes almost nine years ago. It wasn’t easy, and even now I feel a strong urge every so often. I have made up my mind that I will never be free of a thing that so consumed my energy, my time, and my health. How much worse it is when the thing we must do without is a human being we have we have loved, trusted, and maybe idolized. I speak for myself. Giving up (to me) means surrendering all hope of any tomorrow that includes the beloved. I will not do that. I can not do that. But I can learn to live in the “now” with as much grace, courage, and love for myself and others as possible. I deserve this much. Thanks, Pat, for helping me to see what I have left, not what I may have lost. Elaine

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Some people (who have not lost a mate to death) have compared this loss and yearning as being similar to an alcoholic giving up alcohol, and I suppose in some ways it is the same, but as you say, you can’t just push the loved one out of your head.

  4. Mary Friedel-Hunt Says:

    When the alcoholic who gives up alcohol loses the love of his/her life…we shall see if they say it is the same, similar, has any resemblance whatsoever. Can not compare losses.

    • Elaine Garverick Says:

      Mary,
      I meant to use my addiction to cigarettes as a metaphor to overcoming loss. Of course alcohol or cigarettes do not compare to the loss of a beloved individual. I thought I made that clear in my comment. I’m very sorry if you took offense at my remarks.
      Sincerely,
      Elaine

      • Pat Bertram Says:

        Elaine, she was responding to my remark, not yours. She would never be so unkind as to make you feel bad for having commented. You did make your point clear that as hard as giving up cigarettes was, it doesn’t compare to losing a loved one. We all have losses and crosses to bear. I appreciate your comments and your support during this difficult time.

  5. Mary Friedel-Hunt Says:

    Elaine, I WAS referring to Pat’s alcohol statement. I thank you for writing and apologizing, however. Pat is right, I would never want to make anyone feel sad or bad. I was also making a bigger statement about how so many compare the loss of a beloved to another loss of any kind…most in ignorance having never really lost a beloved….it is our culture…and it gets so old. No problem, Elaine and thanks so much. And to you also, Pat, for jumping in with your statement of clarity and support.

  6. Annette Says:

    I am just starting the 2nd year of grief. The first year is such a blur right now. I feel like I will never get through this. Mondays are the worst days for me. I miss his hugs and kisses and crazy sense of humor. But this blog lets me know I am not alone. How can anyone get through this despair? It is so consuming. My life has changed forever. I cannot look to the future with any hope. I just get through each day. The anxiety is horrible. I don’t know how anyone can get through this but they do. So I am putting one foot in front of the other. That is the best I can do for now.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Annette, that’s all can we do, put one foot in front of the other, and somehow the days pass. I don’t know how any of us get through this, either, and I don’t know if we ever completely do. Apparently the despair does lessen, but the yearning to see him once more is still claws at me.

    • janice harnack Says:

      That is all anyone can do- the first months are excruciating to get through. But you just force yourself to go on. After 6 months into this journey, I can even laugh without feeling guilty about those fleeting moments of happiness. I also work at the hospital where my husband died. I thank God every shift I work, that I am one day closer to retirement. My life and my world are forever changed. This is my second husband who has died- my children have lost two fathers. Their biological father passed away 6 and a half years ago. Their stepfather died august 18,2013. This has been a very long winter in Ontario, Canada. I want to see my tulips and crocuses bloom- new life- renewed energy. I am not the same person anymore- I am still waiting to see who I will be as I continue on this grief journey – sometimes I feel very alone- even though I am surrounded by so many friends and family.

      • Pat Bertram Says:

        That’s one of the many difficult things we have to face on this journey — the feelings of isolation. It must be doubly hard to have gone through this pain twice. I am so sorry.

  7. Juliana Says:

    This is very helpful in understanding why it’s been a year and I feel like I’m getting worse. My brain tells me that my husband is gone, but my heart tells me I want to be with him. Thanks for the insight.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      For many of us, the second year was harder than the first. We were so concentrated on getting through that first year, then when the second year started and we realized he was truly going to be gone for the rest of our lives, it brought on a whole new level of grief. I’m coming up on my third anniversary, and it’s still hard to understand. Wishing you peace during the coming year.

  8. Exiene Says:

    It is a relief and the biggest pain to read here, and other places that the 2nd year is, in some ways, worse, I lost my husband to cancer in Nov of 2011 and sure enough, people think I should be over it and I’m a bit of a mess. I sometimes don’t care if I wake up, but am surprisingly too strong to end my life (I say that because if I do have a thought of ending my life I am repulsed by the options of how to do it.) So, I have to live with the pain, but darned if it’s not the hardest thing. It’s lonely, but I really don’t want to have another in my life until I know who I am again. I thank you for the information that explains everything I’m feeling but can’t explain to others who don’t know.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I’ve been talking to another woman here on this blog who lost her husband on October 31 of 2011. Maybe you will find a bit of comfort in knowing that others in your “grief age group” feel the same. You can find our conversations here: https://ptbertram.wordpress.com/2012/05/27/two-years-and-two-months-of-grief/ and here: https://ptbertram.wordpress.com/2013/01/05/the-half-life-of-grief/

      This is an especially difficult time for the very reasons you enumerated. Just when you’re having to deal with re-grief — the realization that this is forever and its accompanying upsurges of raw grief — others figure you should be over it, so you get no support. Those of us who have been there know the truth. That sometimes the second year is harder. Also, you are around your eighteen month anniversary, and for some reason, the grief at that time is as bad as it was in the beginning.

      And yes, many of us do entertain the thought of ending it all (it’s natural until you get to the point of stockpiling pills or sharpening knives), but like you, we are all too strong to do so. It is surprising to find such strength when we are at what feels to be our weakest and most vulnerable time.

      I have been told that this process takes about three to five years but most often four years. Around that time, we find that life becomes new again. I still have a year to go to reach my fourth anniversary, but I hold on to that thought. I find it comforting to know that others have gone through the process and found renewal on the other side. (Though we never do completely get over our grief. It just becomes a part of who we are.)

      I’m sorry we’ve both had to go through this, but I’m glad I’m far enough ahead of you to be able to put into words what you are feeling. It helps both of us.

      • Sue Bedoyan Says:

        Like you am in my fourth year, l loath this “life” and cannot see any light at the end of the tunnel, but as someone told me little steps. I want to feel joy again, I find nothing in which to be happy.

        • Pat Bertram Says:

          It’s now six and a half years for me. I can see some light, have days where I can be happy, but I still miss him. Always will. The fourth year was still hard for me. I don’t know what it takes to find some happiness again. For me, it was taking dance classes. It helped me focus on something new. But yes, the loss is so difficult and the grief lasts longer than anyone can ever imagine.

          • Lorraine Murray Says:

            It has been 15 months for me, and his clothes are still in the closet, a silent testimony to my impossible hope that he might return. Some days I think, “Oh, I’m feeling better,” and then something will trigger a wave of grief, and tears just flow. I know he would want me to be happy and to have dreams for the future, but it’s hard to envision a future without him. I am constantly tired, and it’s so hard to explain this to people. He shows up in my dreams, looking happy and healthy — and he’s surprised when I tell him what happened — how he went on a walk and had a heart attack and died instantly.

          • Pat Bertram Says:

            It took me more than five years before it sunk in that I would never be going home to him. (After he died, I went to another state to take care of my dad.) Somewhere on the back of my mind, jeff was waiting for me. I’ve come to see that grief is a quantum state, where the loved one is simultaneously alive and dead. It’s no wonder grief is so exhausting. It’s also stressful, one of the most stressful situations ever. So on with all the yearning to see him, the bewilderment of having to create a life without him, we have to deal with stress,insomnia, exhaustion. It is impossible to explain to people what is happening.

            I am so sorry you are having to go through this. Wishing you peace.

          • Joanne Baker Says:

            Hi Pat I’m Joanna Baker my first husband ended in divorce after 12 years found another guy a year later we live together then we got married February 29th of 08 Leap Day can you imagine just shy of our 10th wedding anniversary the good Lord called him home I don’t think ever got over losing his dad 4 / 16 / 17 4 months to the date is when his son my second husband went home to 8 / 16 / 17 we really loved each other I love and miss him so dearly I have read some of your comments they’re good and sad guys talking about second year boy the first year was a doozy but I know the good Lord above will watch over me sorry this letters long thank you and may God bless you always Joanna

          • Pat Bertram Says:

            Joanne, I am so sorry about your husband. It’s very difficult to lose someone you love so dearly. The second year is often bad, but nothing will ever be as hard as the first year. Wishing you peace as you continue your life without your husband.

        • Tina Trueblood Says:

          I am within months of the fifteen year mark. Still, as Sue said, “…I find nothing in which to be happy.”

          • Pat Bertram Says:

            I am so sorry. Of course you can’t find happiness. One thing no one tells you is that it takes a minimum of three years, sometimes as long as five to find a way out of the sadness and into a different source of happiness., and even then, grief continues to visit you. It’s not an easy thing to deal with. Wishing you peaceful days and sleepful nights.

    • Sue Bedoyan Says:

      Have read your post, three years for me, no joy, not fussed about seeing anyone, do hope things are easier for you now. X

  9. Barbara Says:

    Today is the 2nd anniversary, and I feel like I just want to go back to bed and pull the covers over my head I guess I should feel proud or relieved that I made it through two years without going completely nuts, but all I know is that I feel empty, scared, and lonely. I’ve stepped out a little, made some new friends, and I’m starting grad school (today of all days!). But just when I feel like I have it all together the memories start and the pain hits, and I feel like a little kid.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Yes, feeling empty, scared, and lonely are big problems, though now that I am at almost four years, I don’t feel them quite as much. Doing new things is about the only way to continue on with life despite the pain. Yes, you should be proud and relieved you made it through two such horrendous years, but it doesn’t help, does it? He’s still gone. That’s the thing that I can never quite fathom — that no matter what I do, I can’t change that.

      I am so sorry you have to go through this, sorry any of us do.

      Wishing you peace as you navigate your third year.

  10. Jennie Saps Says:

    Oh I am glad I found this site. Of course I, too, thought ‘I just have to get through this first year and ……’ And what I don’t know. What did I expect? This 2nd year has been very tough. As everyone says, the support falls away because we are supposed to be ok now. And because life goes on for most folks. They’ve done their bit. And I guess, they might shy away from the truth if they knew it. It’s the longing…..it’s the sheer blessed exhaustion of keeping on going, pulling up the bootstraps and putting on the armour every day. Yuk! When does it all end, I ask myself. And the answer is best not considered. And the thing is, I still love my best friend, absolutely adore him….. But now I know 100% that he ain’t ever coming back. The reality of that is just ……well, I don’t have to say.
    Thanks for providing a space where I can air my thoughts and now that others out there totally understand what I’m trying to say.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      The second year really is tough. We got through that first year minute by minute, hanging on by our fingernails, only to discover the reality — there is no end. He will always be gone.

      Even after four years, I still feel the exhaustion of trying to be present in life rather than looking back. Still pulling up my bootstraps. Still trying to accept that no matter how much I want to talk to him one more time, he isn’t coming back.

      When people used to say they couldn’t imagine what I was going through, I’d tell them there was no way they could imagine it. I still can’t imagine it, and I’ve gone through the worst of it. At least, I think I have.

      And yes, you’re right — it’s best not to consider how long it will last, though it does get better, I promise you. Until then, when you get tired of carrying your armor by yourself, stop by here and air your thoughts. We understand.

      Wishing you peace.

  11. Sadia Says:

    Hi Pat, my father died in July 2011, then my husband died in August 2012, I was going to get a divorce, as things were not working out, but I loved him still n miss him so much. I was blamed for his death by others and my own inner voice, though it was a heart attack. I suffer from depression, which became worse after one year. I have two children, a 10 and 13 year old, my son at the time of his fathers death was 11 and he went into mental depression as well. I had to move back from Canada to my country of origin Pakistan, as I needed family, and was alone in Canada. Pakistan is not easy to adjust too, the life m security here r awful, but the family support is good. Anyway, people often tell me to stop being a victim, to do this, to do that … Only my widowed mother understands that I am still grieving and trying lil by lil everyday. Pat am I being a victim to get sympathy or is it ok to feel so lost and down still…?

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Of course it’s okay to grieve. It doesn’t matter that you were getting a divorce. That just gives you more reason to because you never got what you wanted from him and now you never will. And since you are also grieving for your father, it is twice as hard. Grief is important. It’s how we process our losses. Don’t let anyone take that from you.

      • Sadia Says:

        Thank u … Its not easy when your son also says that isnt this what u wanted… It was a tough tough marriage but we still loved each other, n it was hard to get out after 15 years, and then 2 days before our separtation, he died, it was like the carpet got pulled under my feet. I m very God conscious n felt maybe I was being punished.

        • Pat Bertram Says:

          I can assure you, you are not being punished. Things just happen. As for your grief, it will get better. It takes three to five years after a major loss to find a renewal. Be patient with yourself and with your son. He probably hates to see you grieve.

          • Maryann Says:

            I totally understand…my husband took his life after a 8 year battle with addiction and bipolar disorder. His addiction/rehab/bizarre behavior were challenging but we stuck it out and I walked him through rehab, AA, counseling, med changes, hospitalizations. Yes it was exhausting but we were working together. We have 5 children (one of which is still in elementary school) and our first grandson was born in April. I’ve been single handedly running our 28 year old company with its 45 employees this past year. After the one year anniversary mark I am falling apart. I’m so exhausted and mentally depleted. I’m trying to sell our business because I don’t think I can run it anymore. I feel like I hit a brick wall! I don’t feel like super woman anymore and I don’t even want to be. Thanks for letting me vent.

          • Pat Bertram Says:

            Of course you’re falling apart. You’re doing the work of two people, have all the stress of running a family and a business plus the stress of grief. Any one of those would be hard, but all three? I don’t know how you managed to last a year, especially considering the stresses of the previous eight years. And I bet you haven’t been able to take the time to grieve. I hope you have someone to talk to. If not, stop by and vent any time. I can’t even imagine what you are going through, but I am a sympathetic ear.

          • maryannrose Says:

            Thanks… Not the life I expected … We both grew up in church together, we were good kids, hard workers and successful business and family. Then my husband got addicted to pain killers after surgery and the downward spiral started….didn’t recognize it at first but by the time we realized it was a problem … It’s all a blur from his first trip to detox when our youngest just turned 3 ( we adopted her when she was 6 months old..we were a “certified” good family). Part of my grief is just trying to figure out what went so terribly wrong…I started going to back counseling in July. Thanks again for listening! I miss my 10 year ago husband…I kept seeing periods of him but he finally gave up because he hated putting our family through the pain over and over again. I would have given my life for him to get better but he thought taking his life would make our lives better….

          • Pat Bertram Says:

            One of the problems with grief is that you don’t just grieve the person he was at the end, you also grieve the person you grew up with, the person you fell in love with, the person you exchanged vows with, the person he was at your happiest, the person he was when he realized what had happened to him, the person he was he tried the hardest to undo his inadvertant addiction, the husband, the father, the businessman. All those men are gone, too, which makes grief a full-time job — there is so much to mourn, to be angry over, to regret. Grief for someone who died after being ill is hard enough to deal with, but your situation is heartbreaking. I’m glad you’re going to counseling. I don’t know if you will ever figure out what went so terribly wrong — the more you look, the more you will see all the interconnecting paths that led to the end, but I hope you will find peace in the search. He sounds like a good man who did the only thing he could, but it still leaves you with so many unanswered questions and way too much pain. (Incidentally, “not the life I expected” seems to be the refrain of grief. I’m not making light of your feelings — I just wanted you to know that in addition to everything else we bereft feel, most of us feel outraged and shocked that life turned so terribly bad.) Try not to be too strong — cry, scream, punch a pillow, whatever it takes to let out some of that back-breaking stress you’re under.

  12. amy Says:

    We lost our 19 year old son 7 months ago. He was my whole life, a gift from God, and a blessing. I cry uncontrollably most afternoons after I get out of work. I can’t function, I can’t love, and worst of all I can’t be a mother to my other 25 year old child.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Oh, I am so very sorry about your son. From what I have heard, the loss of a child is the worst grief there is, so I can’t even imagine what you are going through. I do know it takes time — sometimes several years — to find a renewal after such a profound grief. Notice that I didn’t say “it takes time to get over grief”? That’s because you never do get over grief, but the pain does lessen, I promise, and you will eventually find your way back to happiness. Be kind to yourself. Don’t get upset with yourself for your grief. At seven months, grief is still very new.

      I’m here if you need a place to talk about your pain or your son or whatever.

      Wishing you peace.

  13. Linda Christle Says:

    I have read your book, The Great Yearning as it was the only one that spoke to me and now I am reading your blog. My Husband passed April 8, 2014 after 17year battle with CML (lukemia) a battle which we walked hand and hand together. He was in 6 clinical trials the first was, the Gleevec Trail under Dr. Brian Druker at Oregon Health and science university in Porland. We travelled there from Va for two years until is body no longer responed to the durg. He then had a Stem Cell transplant which he failed and then on to 4 more clinical trials of drugs derived from Gleevec and 21/2 years of chemo infusions to keep him going until we could get the last drug. Needless to say we battled through so much together but is heart failure 20% ejection fraction was the final straw along with other complications. I never thought he would leave me as I brought him home from the hospital so many times. This life of living and griefing is the hardest thing I have ever had to endure. The pain, emptiness, and fear of not being or not wanting to go home is overwhelming!!! But I know I have to for myself and my son and family. I have found an understanding in your blog on the challenges of the second year, which I am in now. The greif and fear seem to be stronger and I hope I am not in a rabbit hole. I live each day and do all the daily chores including now trying to make his den a new room with the some old and new memories.. But the grief can stop me dead in my tracks. I am 70 and I am trying to take it one day at a time as opposed to thinking 20 more years of this pain—how awful. But the Lord is with me and I have found your 2nd year of grief information very helpful. I am ramblng, I do not feel a need for grief group as my world has solid friends and family. But I can not wear them ouT!!! Thank You for your words and your time.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Linda, you weren’t rambling, just letting out a cry of pain. Grief is the hardest thing I ever experienced, too. I never thought I would have a pain-free day, never thought I would ever want to wake up in the morning, never thought I could ever breathe without wanting to scream. But it does get better, I promise you. It just takes longer than we can imagine. Three to five years is about average. There will always be pain, you will always miss him, but it does diminish. There will even be days you almost forget that half your heart was amputated, where you will feel that you no longer have one foot stuck in the abyss of eternity.

      The second year comes as a shock because conventional wisdom allows a year to grief, and so often the second year is worse. The reality that this is permanent sinks in.

      I am so sorry you have to deal with this. If you need to talk, feel free to leave a comment on any blog post.

      • maryannrose Says:

        I’ll be two years in August 3rd….this year has been hard. I’m doing ok but it’s just this feeling of blah…I have an 8 year old which helps but my adult children also seem to be really struggling this year… So unexpected and misunderstood by those who haven’t been there.

        • Pat Bertram Says:

          The blah lasts a long time as does every other aspect of grief. I think it’s why so many of us who have been left alone crave adventure. We need something to make us feel alive again.

      • Linda Christle Says:

        Pat, thank you for your words of encouragement and I agree that one feels like your heart has been amputated. Gary and I were married for 47 years and we dated 4&1/2 years, so we shared life together for a long time. Sometimes I am looking for that young married couple who meant in Hawaii for R&R from Viet Nam in 1970 and I wonder how I ended up here and now without him. I realize the reality but the pain of his absence is so sad.
        I will walk through this 2nd year and I will face that the first year he died and now he is dead. You are still and have been a great help to me during this long journey. Thankyou, I am so sorry for the loss of your life long partner.

        • Pat Bertram Says:

          The thing that’s so weird about grief for a long time mate is that you not only grieve the man he became, but the man he was at the beginning and every step in between. And you also grieve for your lost selves -all the women we used to be. I don’t know why death illuminates all these losses, I only know that it does.

  14. Linda Christle Says:

    Great picture of your dance team. Hope the performance went well. You have been through so much and you are smiling!!! Hope your car gets completed SOON.
    I appreciate your words so much they seem to fit my situation so much. I am trying to remember our life over the last 50 years so that I can move forward with out this deep feeling of sadness. I know it is only a year and two months since he passed but I think I expect myself to be further along in the grief process than I am. I still have sudden feelings of overwhelming sadness which can be crippling. I was pleased to read that in can be three to five years in this process. I would think that since every relationship is different that I should not compare mine to another persons grief process. I always thought I was so strong, especiallly all those 17 years dealing with the illness and searching for solutions, I never allowed myself the emotion of crying but now it flows so easily. Well thank you for your time.
    Hope you have a great day.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I didn’t start smiling again until I began taking dance classes. He’d been gone three and a half years at that point, and I just couldn’t shake the deep-seated sadness, but learning to dance brought me back to life. Now at more than five years, I have more happy moments than sad ones. At just over a year, I was where you are now – expecting to be further along in the grief process. Grief has it’s own time schedule. It’s odd, but often the more complicated a relationship is – and long-term illness really complicates things – the more we have to grieve. We grieve what we lost. We grieve what we never had. We grieve all the losses over all those traumatic years we had no time to grieve when they happened. We grieve the loss of the young man. We grieve the loss of our own youth. We grieve for so many things we never even knew caused us sadness. All that takes time.

      And yes, all grief is different, but you’ve read enough about my grief to know there are many similarities when you’ve lost a long time mate. It’s woman who have been through it who told me about the three to five years to renewal. Often on the fourth anniversary, they found they’d turned a corner.

      Wishing you peace.

      And yes, the performance went great. People loved us.

  15. Suzanne O'Connor Says:

    It must be by divine intervention that I came upon your site this morning. I am just about at the 18-month mark of losing my close companion of almost 20 years and I feel more alone than ever, and don’t have much will to change the situation as it is. He passed away in November 2013. Two months later, the company I worked for suddenly declared bankruptcy but, in truth, I navigated that one well, it was a bit of a relief from the stress of restructuring and I fared better than many others financially speaking. What I miss the most is the people on my team… we had a wonderful working relationship. We still keep in touch. Three months later, in May 2014, I received a call that my nephew had been killed by one of his neighbors. He wasn’t involved in any illegal activity, none of that, I had spoken to him on the phone a few months before and I remember him telling that he had a weird neighbor but that it was o.k., he didn’t let too much bother him.
    Like many of you, I felt that after the one year mark, things would start to feel somewhat normal again, moving forward with plans and so on. It just doesn’t seem to work that way. I live about two hours away from my children.
    and grandchildren. I feel selfish that of all the grandparents, I’m the one who seems them the least. We’ve talked about my moving closer to where they live but they definitely aren’t pressuring me. I’m the one who feels that it would be natural to do just that, to see them more often, get back to cooking meals, not a big priority in my life these days even though I always enjoyed cooking and baking for family and friends.
    I love the location where I live, outside the big city but I do spend a lot of time alone through choice actually. I think of activities or volunteer work that I could do but I can’t see myself staying with it. I do feel selfish about this as well but it doesn’t propel me to make a change.
    Reading what many of you have said about the second year – the people we lost are still gone, the people left behind seem to be carrying on with their lives, a lot of them have no choice, they’re busy working and living their lives. It brings me a sense of relief to read that the second year puts us in a sort of limbo. The first year is sheer dealing with the loss and knowing that nothing is expected of us, we can lay on the couch as much as we want and there is a slight bit of comfort in that in a way. I went back to work for another company soon after the other closed and was very busy until this spring and, yes, in between time, the couch and old tv series were my friends.
    Year two is here and I sense that what I feel now is how I’ll feel for the rest of my life. I’m in my sixties and I don’t have a whole lifetime left as is the case for some of you I think. I still can’t find the motivation to make plans.
    I’m looking at the length of my text. I apologize for going on and on. This is the first time I’ve written about the experience of the last year and a half so please forgive me.
    Your many posts have given me comfort in knowing that it’s possible to feel this way, that we’re not crazy or not willing to move ahead. I think your explanations that grief is not neat and tidy but that we shouldn’t lose hope that someday we’ll feel more willing to take part in life as we see it individually, is so reassuring to know even if there is no definite timeline. It is a very lonely period of life right now but, again, your posts are a great comfort.
    Thank you all sincerely.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      If you haven’t already done so, click on “grief posts” at the top of this blog, and sample more of my writing about grief, especially those written about the eighteenth month. You will see that what you are feeling is natural and common. Loss, especially a cascade of losses, takes a long time to process. Three to five years or more before you find some sort of renewal. You still could have a lifetime ahead of you, and you will find a way to happiness again, though you will never get over your loss. It’s like the renewed interest in life wraps around your grief and makes it tolerable. I’m glad you stopped by and left such a long comment. It helps to put your feelings into words. You can stop by whenever you need to. I am always here and willing to listen to a sister in grief.

      And oh, by the way – continue to be selfish as long as you need to. It’s an important part of healing.

    • Sue Bedoyan Says:

      I have read your post, can relate, three years for me. Just wanted to say hope things a little better. X

  16. Suzanne O'Connor Says:

    Thank you Pat. I read some of your posts, and I want to say that your honnesty and clarity about your ongoing feelings since you lost your life mate, ups and downs, are appreciated, because they are so true. By and large, people don’t want to talk about the loss of a loved one but I’m learning that all that does is simmer until someday it comes right back up at us I believe.

    It’s never too late to say it, I am truly sorry for your loss. With the amount of writing you’ve done in recent years, it seems you’ve gone through a long, struggling period of time. But now you’re starting to dance. I think you are at the four to five year mark and it appears that you are seeing glimmers of sun so to speak.

    After writing and sending my previous post this morning, I felt like a wet rag but I wanted to reply to your post.

    I’ll be back and share some positive moments I feel at times, as well. We need to recognize these moments. I know that when I go out and see people, at a relaxing event of my choice, I do feel energized, they remind me of how I once felt and I think we truly need to pay attention to these positives.

    I’m going to do more reading and will be back but I want to say it again, sincere thanks. I hope that in some way our blogs help you as well!
    Until later!

  17. Elizabeth Says:

    I have lost 2 sons and my infant grandson in 18 months. After loosing my 33 year old son to cancer, I was in a state of shock, and numbness, mixed with uncontrollable crying at times. I remember focusing on a garden and my other son, a veteran of the war in Iraq, and my daughter in law, and two grandchildren. She soon was expecting again and gave birth prematurely to a beautiful baby boy. He was precious. We lost him at 1 month old. I lost my second son 5 months later, who was 29 years old. He was the father of the baby that we lost and the two small children. So we lost a total of 3 very loved members of our family in less than 18 months. It has now been almost 2 years. The holidays and his birthday yesterday were more difficult to get through this year. Yesterday was his birthday. I still can not sleep.I will never understand why or what happened. The sorrow and difficulty of letting go and accepting the reality is something beyonds words to express. I have put the children as my main focus, as I am their guardian, and the sorrow and loss they have felt and expressed has been tremendous. I do not dwell on the losses or I would fall apart completely. But sorrow hits in waves, sometimes out of nowhere at the most unexpected times.My faith, and total belief in God and Heaven, and the love and support of my family and close friends have held me together as I hold the little ones together. Still I have experienced sorrows, many sleepless nights, days of being on auto pilot, and holidays and birthdays seem to be harder this year. I have found it helpful to write my thoughts in their memorial pages.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I am so very sorry. I cannot even imagine the immensity of your grief. From knowing others who have lost two grown children, I know you never get over it, but that eventually the pain and sorrow becomes easier to handle. It’s good you can write down what you are feeling. Hang on to anything that brings you a moment of peace.

  18. Anita Says:

    Thanks for your lovely words. I am at the end of year two and am truly wondering where has he gone and I am struggling with the loneliness, you made me see it’s normal, painful but normal thankyou

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Yes, painful but normal. It takes a long time to find renewal after such a devastating long — three to five years — so be kind to yourself, and patient. Wishing you peace.

  19. Tera Says:

    My husband’s daughter is getting married next week. I will be attending the wedding but am so anxious about how I will respond. I already cry every time I think about it. He would be so proud. It has been 18 months since my husband’s death and it feels almost worse now.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Of course it feels worse. The second year is awful, and every time you have to deal with something he would have attended, like his daughter’s wedding, you feel his absence even more.

      I’m sorry for your loss, and for his. Sending good thoughts that everything goes okay that day.

  20. Len Says:

    My ex gf lost her dad over a year ago. about 6 months after he died, she broke up with me cause she couldn’t handle loving me…she couldn’t do it cause she said she was broken. A couple of month ago, she started to come back around and things were looking up. Then the first anniversary of his death occurred in July and i have lost her again…she seems even worse. Distant, cold and just wanting to be alone. No matter how much I try to be there for her, she is just falling apart. I like many others thought she was coming out of it…only now to see that she is much much worse. I guess this is common?

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Definitely common. I am sorry you both are having to go through this, but the truth is grief, is isolating. It’s all you can do to get through the days. And you do feel broken. Sometimes the second year is harder than the first as the truth that the person is never coming back settles in. Best of luck to both of you.

      • Len Says:

        Thank you for responding. Is it normal that she says she is broken and numb and feels nothing…doesn’t feel love, doesn’t feel happiness but yet seems to go out to all these social events.

        • Pat Bertram Says:

          I’m sorry. I don’t know if that is normal or not. I’m not a therapist, just someone who experienced deep grief. Sometimes people who lose their spouse go out because they are lonely and need to feel part of the world again, or because they are looking for another mate. But that wouldn’t necessarily hold true if she lost her father. I wish I knew the answer. All I know is that all grief is different.

        • Pat Bertram Says:

          Is there someone she can talk to? A minister or a therapist? If she doesn’t want to, is there someone you can discuss this with to help you deal with your own feelings?

  21. From Bruising to Blessing | Bertram's Blog Says:

    […] The Five Major Challenges We Face During the Second Year of Grief […]

  22. Hettie Barnard Says:

    All of a sudden I have realised that there are very few things that can hamstring a good cook who really enjoys cooking more than having no one to cook for. This may seem trivial but for me it is a part of my grief and mourning process that proofs very difficult to deal with. My husband was such an appreciative tester of everything I put before him. I now have no one to cook for on a regular basis and find it very difficult to cook for myself – I am afraid that eggs and carbs and some very mundane salads and frozen vegs are my only creations since he passed away 18 months ago. I know all the answers to that – “be kind to yourself” – “invite friends for a meal” and so on and so forth – but nothing appeals to me – I just want to cook for him and his enjoyment. Feel somewhat childish and petulant – but that’s as may be. In the scheme of things such a small thing and yet it brings me a lot of tears and feelings of helplessness. Paradoxically I still buy recipe books which I bring home and then never open and they lie there in silent condemnation of my unnecessary extravagance and unexplained spending in buying something which I do not really want to utilize.
    I really hate this feeling of hanging on some thread which is about to give out any moment! Grief is such an unpredictable thing – Coming home from work – getting in my car – and BOOM – start uncontrollable weeping – driving home through a veil of tears – so tired of feeling lonely and hopeless with no control over my future which seems endless without the presence of my beloved.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Yep. Driving home in tears. We all do it. and no, the loss of you appreciator is not a small thing. It’s but one facet of the great loss, and only exacerbates the grief.

      Grief is a quantum experience in that the beloved is both alive and dead in our minds at the same time. it’s hard not to do the things for them we once did because in one part of our mind they are still alive. It’s this quantum aspect that makes grief so incomprehensible. we are dealing with multiple states of mind when we are at our most vulnerable.

      Be aware that no part of grief is childish and petulant. everything we thought we knew about life has been destroyed.

      I seldom cook anymore. i too understand the concept of being kind to yourself (I have even given that same advice) but it in no way satisfies the yearning we have for the person who made our lives make sense. maybe someday you will cook again but maybe you won’t. (I seldom do any more, lost the heart for that as well as many other things I used to do.)

      I am just so very sorry this sort of pain exists. it’s too damn hard.

      wishing you well.

  23. Kristenia Jones Says:

    Very interesting. My husband died 1 yr. ago. I’m not suicidal I just can’t live without him. He was my whole life. I really don’t want to go on without him😢

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I’m sorry about your husband, and sorry you have to go on alone. I understand perfectly — I was never suicidal, but I had (and still have) a hard time figuring out how to deal with a world without him in it.

  24. Heidi Says:

    It’s been a year and 1/2 since I lost my husband of 38 years. We met in high school and grew into adulthood together. Heck, we were even both diagnosed with cancer within months of each other. I survived, he did not. At only 59, I need to go to work to earn and income, but I just seem frozen in not being able to move forward to begin again. He was my champion, and now I fear failure and wrong decisions that could create a downward spiral. I’m living in a city full of strangers. I’ve tried churches and meetups, but city life is cold to me. I want to move to someplace quieter and I want to give back. I know helping others will help me feel purposeful again, I just don’t know how to make that initial step. The thought of packing up my now meager belongings is overwhelming.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I understand. I am in much the same situation.To get a job, I have to be where the job will be, but how can you move if you don’t know where the job will be? How do you pick a place to live if you have no reason to be anywhere in particular? How do you make friends, or find like-minded people who will care about you? I still don’t know the answer.Most of my stuff is in storage because I don’t know where to go or what to do. I wish you luck in your daunting task. Others have done it — one woman in our position took off from her New England home by herself and started over in Arizona. Let me know what / if you decide to do.

      • Heidi Says:

        Your words could have been mine. Each day I spend hours looking online at states, towns, costs of living, taxes…all the things my husband would have decided because it would have been for his work as I was a stay at home wife/mom. It’s like looking at a snow globe with life happening merrily on the inside and I’m stuck outside the glass. Funny you mention Arizona as we lived there for a number of years. I’m thinking someplace cold, maybe I just want an excuse to bury myself under a lot of covers and not come out unless I want. Not having a profession makes the ‘getting to work’ part all the more daunting. I guess to sum it up, I just don’t know where I fit in life’s puzzle anymore.

        • Pat Bertram Says:

          I was able to put off any decision for five years because after Jeff died, I went to take care of my father. Then after he died, I stayed to close up his house, and then I stayed in the area until my car was refurbished. A year ago I took off on a 5-month cross-country trip to see if any place spoke to me, but it didn’t. I came back for the summer and to recuperate for another trip, but now my arm is badly broken, so I can’t do anything for several months. You’d think by now I could have figured out what I want to do, but I am still looking for my piece of the puzzle. I don’t have children, so that’s not a consideration, but what about you? Would you be able to or want to move to be within driving distance of them?

          • Heidi Says:

            Several of my kids are military and not set to one place. The others are still college age and not set yet either. I too have done a lot of traveling to various states. Just loved the pacific northwest. Although my husband and kids have been my life, I feel this time is for me. It was encouraging to hear that it is not selfish to feel this way. I read somewhere where a person describes the loss of a spouse to losing a limb and learning to go on in life without that limb. Everything is a huge change and adjustment and will be for the rest of our years. Hope your arm heals quickly!

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Actually, I can’t really understand. It must be terribly difficult to have survived cancer when your husband did not, and then to have to deal with grief and rebuilding your life. Wishing you peace, and hope.

      • Heidi Says:

        To go through treatments and surgeries and trying to make it to your husbands as well, was completely draining. I felt guilty that I would have a positive cancer outcome while knowing he would eventually die from his. Thank you for your site that allow me to release tears that I didn’t realize I was suppressing.

        • Pat Bertram Says:

          Of course you’re still needing to cry. It takes three to five years to process what you went through, and considering all the trauma you had to endure before he died, I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes longer. I’m almost at seven years, and I still occasionally succumb to tears. Let the tears flow. They are not a sign of weakness but a way of releasing the horrendous stress you have bwen under for such a long time. Stop by whenever you need to talk. I’ll listen. 

        • Pat Bertram Says:

          Heidi, I hope you’re doing better and have found a place to live.

    • Marie Says:

      I have a similar situation. We met as kids, dated in high school and married after college. We raised 3 children. He left me financially secure but I want my old life back so much. Friends and family love me but they think I should be more over it. So, I go through the motions but I am sad

      • Pat Bertram Says:

        If it’s just been a year and a half, or two years, or three years, you won’t be over it. It takes a long time. One day, you won’t just be going through the motions, but that usually doesn’t happen until around the fourth anniversary, though it could be sooner rather than later. Losing someone that important to your life is devastating. Of course you want your old life back. Don’t let your family and friends force you to “get over” your grief. You will find a renewed interest in life someday, though chances are you will always miss him.

  25. Suzanne Becker Says:

    In April it will be the second anniversary of my husband’s passing. I’ve done really well but this year it has brought me to tears many, many times.. I thought it would be easier this year but it isn’t. All I can hope is that next year will be better. I will never not miss him. We worked together every day… I have to remind myself of how lucky I was to have had him for so many years.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I’m so sorry about your husband. From my experience, each year from now on will get a bit easier, though it could take three to six years to pass through the worst of pain. And you are right, you will never not miss him, but as you say, you were lucky to have him for as long as you did. Still, it’s hard dealing with a world from which our loved ones are absent. Wishing you peace.

  26. Darrell Says:

    Just found this article .. I thought something was wrong .. I have been feeling this deep sadden.. trying to manage where it is coming from.. this is 15 months for me.. I lost my life partner .. it’s starting to feel like it did.. in the beginning when it happened.. now I am wrestling with trying to cope without falling apart..

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Unfortunately, nothing is wrong except that your life partner is gone. Grief never actually goes away — you just have longer and longer between bouts of sadness and they don’t last as long. It’s normal. You got through it the first time, and you will get through it again. Cry, scream, write your partner a letter, anything to bring yourself comfort. Wishing you peace as you go through this painful time.

  27. Paula Hardin Says:

    It has been 1 year and 9 months since my husband of 42 years died. I was 18 when we married and I had to learn how to be alone. I like it sometimes but most of the time U wish I had someone as a companion to keep me company. I’m 63 and I just feel I don’t have anything to look forward to. I have dated some. But at my age the best place to meet men is on a dating site. I’ve met a few nice ones but the ones I like end up either being a liar, Cheater, or one was married! Most I text and they say something that throws me a red flag. I’ve quit that for a while and just being with me I’m very depressed. I takes medicine for that an anxiety but I don’t think it does any good. I have had come grief counseling and have read tons of articles on dealing with grief. I hope after this two year milestone is going to help me want to get up and do something

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I’m so sorry. It’s always hard to lose someone, but around sixty seems especially hard. Too old to fall in love easily, too young to live life alone. I’m impressed that you actually tried a dating site — it took me more than three years, but nothing came of it. Are you physically able to take walks? Sometimes that helps with the depression. Or what about dance classes or painting classes to get you out of the house? I hope, if nothing else, you find peace.

  28. Helen N Says:

    So relieved to have found your blog. Your wise words and those of others here have made me realise why year 2 has been so hard. It will be the second anniversary of my husband’s death in one week’s time. We were married 26 years and he battled cancer for the last 12 months of our marriage. What has shocked me, reading these posts is the realisation that I am not just grieving for the man who, at the age of 58, was finally overcome by the aggressive disease he had fought so hard against. I have realised for the first time that I am also grieving for the carefree funny man I first met, the man who proposed to me, the man who in later life battled depression and stress at work, then took early retirement at the age of 57 and was just getting his life back on track, only for his future happiness – and ours together – to be so cruelly snatched away. The dreams we had for a long and happy retirement together are gone. I’m left behind still working (as I was 8 years his junior I still had/have a long way to go before I can quit work) Its just the sheer unfairness of it all. We had just one wonderful daughter together and she has turned out to be a remarkable clever, beautiful young woman. She was very close to her Dad and is heartbroken by his loss. However (and here’s the part that is so difficult to admit – even to myself – but I need to say it) I so envy her and the life she has ahead of her. She has a wonderful boyfriend – you couldn’t wish for a nicer young man … and yet, I envy them so much it hurts. They have their whole lives in front of them and when I see them together so happy and content and so obviously in love the pain of what I have lost is magnified. I so desperately want a ‘do-over’ – to turn back the clock and experience all those happy, sad, funny, special moments that I had with my husband at the start of our relationship and to be young and carefree again myself. I keep telling myself I’m not going insane and certainly your blog has given me fresh perspective – I have recognised for the first time the grief I feel for the loss of our younger selves – my younger husband and the younger me.
    Thank you for providing the space to let me unload and for offering some sense to the wretched feelings I have right now.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      No, you’re not going insane. You’re going through grief. I started writing about my grief when I realized that what I was feeling in no way resembled the way grief is often portrayed — you go through five or seven stages, and then you’re done. That idea is so wrong!! You grieve everything — the years you had, the years you’ll never have. The youth that’s gone, the golden years you’ll never share. The process is so overwhelming it’s amazing we ever find peace, but somehow, as the years pass, we do, though there will be horrific upsurges every time you or your daughter reach a milestone (her wedding, your first grandchild) because he isn’t there. It’s been seven years for me, and I still want to turn the clock back, to go home to him, to see his smile one more time. I know what you mean about envying your daughter — your love story came to an abrupt halt, and hers is just beginning. In my case, I envied my parents — they were together for sixty years. it’s just darn too hard. Any time you need to unload, fee free to stop by. Sometimes putting your feelings in words helps make sense of the wretchedness.

  29. adrianne dollard Says:

    Now I understand I didn’t understand why it seems to be worse now than it was the first year. More Tears.. more sorrow. But what you wrote makes sense. Thank you.

  30. Michelle Butler Says:

    Reading all these posts makes me feel so not alone. It’s been 14 months since the love of my life passed away. He died in his sleep of a heart attack. He was only 55. I was not there so I have no closure and it’s killing me slowly. I too did not understand why, after so many months, i was still crying and feeling depressed and as the others said just sitting here “waiting”. Then the unthinkable happened. His 29 year old son died unexpectedly over the weekend. It’s like Jeff’s death all over again. I don’t understand why this world is so cruel. I feel isolated and just want to go be with him. I’ve tried grief groups and support but my stubborn mind just wants to sit and wallow. Pathetic! I feel him around at times and see dozens of signs he is sending me. I wish I could just close my eyes and go to sleep and not wake up. But I think I will be here for a long time. Now I have to figure out how to deal with it. By the way Pat, I am so sorry for your loss.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I am so sorry for your great losses. Of course you want to wallow. It’s only been fourteen months. I don’t know why we think we should “get over” the death of the person or persons who made life worth living, but the truth is, we don’t. Eventually, we become someone who can handle the horror of it all, but that takes years. At least three, maybe longer. It’s been seven years for me, and I still have times of waiting. For many years, I expected a call from him to tell me I could go back home (after he died, I left our home and went to a different state to take care of my aged father), but Jeff (my Jeff) never did. I was with when he died, had closure, and it was still hard for me to believe he was gone. You are not pathetic. You are grieving. As hard as it is, as painful as it is, grieving is important. Don’t let people shame you into thinking it’s wrong. At fourteen months, you are still a toddler when it comes to grief. Be kind to yourself. Be at ease knowing you are normal in an abnormal world.

    • maryannrose Says:

      The second year is the hardest I think. I am just four years out and this past year I have finally felt at peace and ready to truly move ahead.

      • Pat Bertram Says:

        maryannrose, the second year really is the hardest for most of us. I am so please you have found peace and glad you stopped by to encourage those who still have a long way to go. Wishing you continued peace.

  31. Anne Costa Says:

    I can’t believe how horrible this second year is, I thought the first year was a nightmare, but now it’s mostly a blur, but this second year… I too feel like I’m waiting, for what I don’t know and then the realization hits me that I’m never going to see the love of my life again and I don’t want to go on. It’s too hard, but it does help to find that others feel the same and I’m not losing my mind. I feel like I’m never going to be happy again.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Anna, it is horrible, and of course you don’t want to go on feeling the way you do, but I promise, it will get better. Someday (maybe not this year or next year) you will find a renewed interest in life and gradually moments of happiness will creep back. How we ever learn to live without the love of our life, I don’t know, but as the years pass, we do learn but we never forget.

      Wishing you peace.

  32. maryannrose Says:

    Hang in there. I’m 4 years in and I finally feel at peace and am moving forward in my new reality. I still miss him but I now feel like I have a purpose in my single life.

  33. Karen Says:

    Hi Pat – another Sadder Saturday for me. I’m @ 1 year & 3.5 months since I lost my husband of almost 30 years, the love of my life, suddenly & without warning. All I see is shades of grey on the horizon. Also, sad because it feels like I am moving farther & farther away from him, and our life together. Some days it just feels like it was another lifetime ago, or that it didn’t even happen at all. Have any of you felt like that at? A close ‘friend’ of mine marvels at the fact that I am still grieving, and ‘can’t let go of the past’, she says I cannot accept anything ending. Well – she admits she never loved anyone as I love my husband, but still insists that it’s my personality that responsible for my grieving. I am so mixed up at this point. It seem that our ‘outside’ world “allows” the first year of grieving, but after that – we should be getting on with our lives..

    I have not been just lying around & crying. This last year – I have sometimes had to force myself- but I get out to church & Bible studies & and out to different places with other lady friends – but looking for another man to love is out of the question, have no desire to ever date again. I have done projects around the house, and home maintenance, got a reverse mortgage so I could stay in the house we loved, and so I can keep my many pets. I want to be as independant as I can – I don’t want to rely on others, as I saw that not many were there to help out, even right after he died.

    I just wish that more people were aware of what we widows & widowers go thru, but I guess it’s just too painful anticipating that one day – they will be us.

    • maryannrose Says:

      I agree that it often seems like a dream…my husband died suddenly after 27 years. I’m four years in now and it took me all that time to really be at peace with it all. I’m outgoing and involved with church BUT it was just so hard. It was like a realization that I was okay and I’m starting to really establish my new life. Don’t let anyone rush you!

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      One year and three months is not much at all. The truth is, it takes three to five years to be able to find renewal again, and for many of us, the second year is the worst.

      Do not let anyone minimize your grief. What you are feeling is absolutely normal. You are probably still dealing with the shock of the suddenness of the death of your husband, as well as all the tangential losses, such as the loss of companionship, a friend, shared hopes for the future, and dozens of other losses. It’s almost impossible to process all that in the time non-widows think is appropriate for grieving. And then, every anniversary of any kind will bring grief back in its raw state. I was like you, doing all sorts of things, not just lying around crying, but it was only after the 7th anniversary that grief has left me alone.

      If you haven’t already, I would suggest checking out the various articles I wrote about grief (the archives are here: https://ptbertram.wordpress.com/archives-grief-posts/), paying particular attention to the comments. As horrible as grief is, it is somewhat of a relief to find out that what you are feeling is perfectly normal. And yes, I wished people were aware of our grief, too. That is why I shared my experiences on this blog.

      Wishing you peace.

  34. Catarina Carrapiço Says:

    So true. I lost my dad 2 years ago. Year 1 was tough, but year 2… oh boy. Just when I thought most of my grief was over and done, sadness hit me like a b***. I didn’t even see it coming, I just became sadder and sadder everyday and all I could do was try to figure out why the hell was I still so sad 1 year later and struggle to survive the pain. I did. Year 3 is the year where I see my dad everywhere. Of course I don’t really see him, and I don’t believe in life after death at all (I wish I did), but I get this odd comfort feeling from running into things that remind me of him (for some reason, turtles are “my sign” for feeling closer to him). I still miss him like crazy and I would still happily trade a body part for one more day with him. But it’s not around my throat or crushing my chest anymore… Thank you for sharing this ❤

  35. GLORIA Triggs Says:

    WHAT A RELIEF TO FIND I AM NOT ALONE IN MY SECOND YEAR OF GRIEF. LOST MY HUSBAND TWO YEARS AGO AFTER 52 YEARS OF MARRIAGE. THOUGHT I WAS LOSING IT, BECAUSE I BELIEVED I SURELY SHOULD BE GETTING PAST ALL THE MELANCHOLY DAYS AND NIGHTS. FOR ME STAYING BUSY VOLUNTEERING, CHURCH FUNCTIONS, AND FAMILY GET-TOGETHERS SEEMS TO BE HELPFUL. THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR HEART.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I am so sorry about your husband being gone. And no, you aren’t losing it. It takes years to get through the melancholy days, and even when most of the sadness is gone, you will still occasionally have an upsurge that stuns you with its power. You’re doing the right thing keeping busy and useful. Wishing you all the best as you move through this year.

  36. Cyndi Johnson Says:

    Hi, I’m so glad I came across the 2nd year of grief. It fits like a glove so far. I will have to find the book. Thank you for sharing and explaining these emotional eruptions so well.
    A new fan

    Cyndi Johnson

  37. Cindy Smet Says:

    This hit home to me. My husband 1st anniversary of his death is fast drawing apon me in April. I am just starting to adjust and know each day is not easier.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Most of us were so focused on getting through the first year, that when the second year came around and we realized we didn’t get any reward for surviving the first year, that he wasn’t ever coming back, sometimes we go through a whole new grief cycle. Wishing you all peace on the anniversary, and hoping your second year isn’t too painful.

  38. Mzswift Says:

    “It’s about yearning for one more smile, one more word, one more hug from the person who was everything to us. The first year of yearning was hard, but somehow many of us had the strange idea that this was some sort of test and that after we passed the test, he’d pop back into our lives and we’d go on as before” this couldnt have said it better everyday i feel like im just waiting to bump into him and continue on like he was never gone

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I’m sorry. It takes a long time after we intellectually accept that they are gone that our psyches also accept. Hence the yearning and the waiting to bump into him again. So hard! I hope you are finding moments of peace.

  39. Dave Says:

    So true, it’s been 10 months, and I feel I’m in limbo

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Yep. The limbo lasts a long time, way more than people admit, which is why I’ve attempted to decode the way we feel when we lose someone significant to our lives. At ten months, you are still just a toddler in the world of grief, so I hope you are patient with yourself and don’t get upset if it’s all taking longer than you think possible. Wishing you peace.

  40. Jackie MacKay Says:

    Thank you for this realistic well written book about grief! I lost my son to aggressive osteosarcoma 2.5 Year’s ago. He was well and fit got bone cancer that metastasized to his lungs and he died in one month.
    I can relate to what you say about trying to find things to look forward to not just exist. Have recommended it to a couple of clients as I am a counselor, clients who lost a spouse.
    I

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I am sorry about your son. To have him goso quickly adds even more trauma to an already horrendous situation. Thank you for writing to let me know you’ve recommended my book. I hope you find things to help you look forward.

  41. Karen Says:

    Hi Pat – I’ve written in before, and I am grateful for this place to go – where others can relate to deep & unrelenting sorrow, and don’t try to minimize it or talk you out of it.
    I am 1 year & 9 months out from losing my beloved husband, suddenly & unexpectedly. We were together 34 years. Today was a grief burst day. Of course – this cold grey horrible weather for April hasn’t helped out at all, being stuck in the house. I watched his memorial CD again, for the 2nd time since I worked up the courage to watch it after a year. I was fortunate to have my friend’s son record it for me.
    I planned the whole thing myself, selected the songs and wrote & gave his eulogy. I had to – I knew him best & loved him most. Our pastor & the associate pastor spoke so lovingly about him, as well as some close friends who wanted to speak. His was a genuine loss to so many. It made me realize all the more what a wonderful man he was, and how much more the heartache is, that he is no longer here. How many tears can a person cry? I sobbed thru it, the hardest part was looking at the pictures of his early life & later our wedding pictures, then pictures of our friends & family, then finally, the ones of him & our 4 dogs that we both love(d) so much. The last one was the one where they all had their heads thrown back, and were doing their “group howl” with him. How they all loved their Daddy. I remember so well that day I took that picture – little did I realize, it was later going to be part of his memorial service. Our youth pastor put that pictorial collage together, to the song “Bless the Lord, oh my soul” – he did such a beautiful job. The memorial ended with the flag ceremony to honor his Naval service.
    How can he be gone? It seems like yesterday – I planted that kiss on the side of his forehead, as I was leaving him in ER that nite after he fell asleep, thinking he would be ok & i’d pick him up the next day. He carried that red lipstick print of mine into eternity with him. I only wish I was able to go with him.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      It’s interesting that even though I don’t have the pain of grief much after eight years, and not many tears, either (apparently, there is an end to those seemingly endless tears) I am still shocked that he is gone, still cannot fathom it. Sometimes the memories recede, but other times it’s as if I just left him. I’m impressed you were able to watch the video — even after a year and nine months, it would be excruciatingly painful. But it sounds like a wonderful memorial to a man who loved his life. Sometimes I wonder if it’s important for us to be left behind, to bear witness (as painful as it might be) to those lives that would otherwise get lost in time. I love the image of his going into eternity with your kiss still on his forehead. But yeah, I know, you’d gladly exchange that image with the real man. Life is ridiculously hard at times. I am so very glad you shared your grief upsurge with me. After more than a year, there’s almost no one left to share those tears with except those who understand. I would never try to talk anyone out of their grief — it’s the last thing we have to connect to our lost ones. Hoping tomorrow is a more peaceful day for you. And stop by whenever you need to. It’s a long road you’re traveling down.

  42. Karen Says:

    Thank you Pat, for understanding….I just ordered your Book “Grief: The Great Yearning” for my Kindle. Looking forward to reading it shortly…. You were so right when you said he was a man who loved his life. Yes – he did. He gave credit to God for giving his life back to him, after early years of drug & alcohol abuse. He was a testimony to God’s grace, that with the Lord’s help – you can turn your life around for the glory of God thru Jesus Christ.. The greatest compliment he gave me was his gratitude I was his wife, and thru his years of illness & many hospital trips, I always stood by him, and helped him as much as I could. We were soul mates in love. We fought the Good Fight together. He never complained about his health issues, fighting thru his COPD with determination, and we thought he was doing relatively well. And, it wasn’t COPD that took him. The day before the ER trip, he was feeling “exceptionally well” he told me. That added to the shock & unbelief, how could he feel so great the day before, and the next day – I was driving him to ER? I later learned it was diverticulitis that had ruptured, that turned into septic shock that took him so quickly. The ER personnel hadn’t a clue to what was happening to him, just gave him pain meds till he fell asleep, and the doctor told me he had a good prognosis, so “go home & get some rest”. When I got that phone call @4:30 AM, a few hours later, I knew……. That’s the odd thing about surviving (if you can call it that) the death of someone so incredibly close to you. You re-live it daily, in some form or another. Be it the day before, the memorial service, the weeks afterwards, the events leading up to the actual death, the regrets, or the last words, the memories, grieving the future you can never have, however the event occured, you replay it & replay it in different forms, day after day, week after week. It takes over what’s left of your life, especially if you’re in your 60’s like me. But – you can’t not go thru it, because the love was just that great, and the loss is even greater. Thanks again – didn’t mean to wander off – but – it’s like I said – you just replay it over & over..

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Feel free to wander off. Sometimes writing what we feel gets it out of our heads (that’s why I started writing about grief in the first place). Oh, yes, I remember well the replaying and all the regrets. It took me years to stop going over things in my head, and after all that replaying, nothing changed. They are still gone and we’re still left to carry on as best as we can.

      Wishing you well.

  43. Judy Bates Says:

    So right on with how the first two years felt for this mom. It is just a few days before we face the two year anniversary of the passing of my precious 36 year old son. He left behind a wife and 3 small children. Losing him left all of us confused and “waiting.” Is the third year better, worse, or the same?

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      The third year is a bit better in that you should have more days of peace and perhaps fewer upsurges of grief. It’s not until after the third or fourth anniversary that you start feeling a sense of renewal, though you will probably still have upsurges of grief where it feels as if he just left. I hate to sound so dismal, but this is the truth of it. When you lose a child or a spouse, it’s as if half of you was ripped away, and though you never “heal” that rip, you become someone who can handle it. But no matter what, you will always miss him. I can’t remember when I stopped waiting for Jeff to come back. It took years, I think. All my grief posts are here: https://ptbertram.wordpress.com/archives-grief-posts Some of those might help you get through the next couple of years. The truth is, the miracle of grief is that it does get better, even though it doesn’t make sense. I mean, the longer they are gone, the more we should miss them, right? But we do find a sense of renewal and maybe even peace as we continue to embrace our grief.

  44. Jan Butler Says:

    Pat…..

    I just came upon this post after searching a lot of “grief in the second year” stories and finding nothing of value (!). But this absolutely NAILS it. I couldn’t have written it better, and I’m an author by trade. 🤔

    It will be 14 months soon, unfortunately corresponding with what would also have been our 36th anniversary…and I was wondering why after the one-year mark, I wasn’t “fine.” Thank you for putting those “why’s” into words!

    Janny

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      So much of grief is not at all what we’ve been taught through books and movies, which is why I wrote about it. Incidentally, don’t be surprised if you have an upsurge of grief at eighteen months. For some peculiar reason I have never figured out, eighteen months seems to be significant.

  45. Wynann Says:

    June 13th will be the 2nd Anniversary of my husband’s passing!! My first year was very hard with all the special occasions we celebrated together so vivid in my heart. He is a very loving, romantic, and we always had so much laughter together. Friday was our date night where we would put on the old 50’s and 60’s Rock and Roll and Country music. We would have a couple of drinks and reminisce, sing, and waltze to our favourite love songs. He was a professional Sax player and singer. He even surprised me at our wedding when my maid of honour sat me in the middle of the hall and all I left think8ng was that it was too early for femovingthe garter. Then I hear this soft music and Bill came from behind the was towards me singing “After the Loving, I’m still in love with you.”
    I just found the first year was like waiting for him to come home. He spend quite a bit of time in hospital from last of Oct 2011 to 2012 in hospital and 6 of those months were in ICU. So my mind kept thinking he would just call for me to pick him up and when I went out and came home I would wait to hear his voice. Family and friends spent and remembered all the special occasions but the second year hit me right in the heart just like it had only happened a couple if weeks ago or that I was in a nightmare and couldn’t wake up. I am no further ahead with my heart. My mind knows what is going on but my heart still can’t comprehend that he will never hug me and make me feel so loved and secure, or I am never hearing his voice or laughter again. I still reach for him when I wake all hours of the night and I still sleep with his pillow up against my back and I still say the same thing to him that we always said before we went to sleep “I love you with all my heart and soul, forever and ever, Amen.” The one joy that has helped me is my now 4 year old nephew who I have breakfast dates with etc. We have a special bond and it’s unconditional love, don’t know where I would be the last 2 years. I couldn’t say out loud that my husband died, it took me 9 months to say it out loud and even now my eyes well up and I say he has passed away. He told me before he passed away that he was leaving half his heart with me and was taking have my heart with him until our two hearts meet again. How am I going to get through the rest of my life; sometimes it’s one hour at a time and sometimes it’s one day at a time as it has been for the last 2 years. My friends who have never lost that once in a lifetime love don’t understand and one even suggested trying to meet someone to go to a movie with or for companionship. She has known me for a lifetime and I couldn’t believe she said that to me, obviously she doesn’t know me as well as I thought she did. I know this is lengthy but it is probably the longest thing I have ever written or told anyone. Thank you for listening and thank you for when I feel like telling someone or explaining my grief I can get them to read what you have written!!
    🙏😔

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Yes, please, tell your friends to read this post and my comment here. Despite what they seem to think, you are doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing. No amount of their urging you to get over it or move on will ever help. How do you heal a half-amputated heart? One day at a time, one new love (your nephew in your case, dancing in mine) at a time. And still it takes years. I went to take care of my dad after Jeff died, and when my dad died five years later, I kept waiting for Jeff to call and tell me I could come home. I still sometimes find myself waiting for a call that never comes. It doesn’t do any good for people to tell us that at least we had such a love because the heart doesn’t know and doesn’t care. It just knows it’s been amputated but doesn’t know why. For what it’s worth, you sound as if you’re doing well. I’m sure you don’t feel that way, but you are. It takes years to be able to process such an unimaginable loss. The sad irony is that not only do we have our grief to contend with, but we also have to be tolerant of and patient with well-meaning family and friends who simply don’t understand the true nature of grief at the loss of a beloved spouse. In movies, they shed one tear and move on, but that is simply not possible since it’s not just your mind and soul and spirit that is grieving, but your body, too. If you ever want someone to listen, feel free to stop by. I understand, or at least I understand as well as anyone can. Wishing you peace as you continue to deal with this incomprehensible loss.

  46. Lovey Says:

    Hi again Pat…. I have a situation that I am dealing with – coming up on the 2 year mark of losing my husband on July 18 2016. I don’t know if feelings like this are “normal” – but what is normal about having half of yourself ripped away with no warning? This week – I had a dream about a guy that was one of my husband’s friends, back when I first met him. We worked at the same place, and I remember this guy was nice looking and very polite. He never made a pass at me, but he wouldn’t – being one of my husbands friends, however – it seemed like he always seemed to look at me with interest. That’s as far as it went, and I never thought of him after that, other than he was a nice guy and one of my husbands good friends.. Anyway – in the dream – this friend was very romantic, and wanting to get something going, and I responded to him in my dream! I hadn’t thought of him in years either! I was horrified when I woke up, feeling like I was cheating my sweet departed husband. Why this guy came into my dream – I have no idea, but I started to look him up on the internet – not even knowing his marital status. It turns out that he lives nearby, and I even drove past his place. Didn’t see anyone I recognized anyway That is as far as I went – am so confused why I reacted this way. I have no idea why I even did that, it all seems so crazy. But – I think I did figure out why I was interested in this guy. He was a link to my husband’s past, they were similar in a few mannerisms. And – he’s alive… I think he represents some sort of tie to my husband, and I don’t know if he even knows he passed away. In my crazed, grief stricken soul, am I trying to somehow entertain the idea of getting a piece of my husband & his past back, with his friend? The feeling has pretty much passed because I realize I can’t just go up to his door! I am not even looking for a relationship – I am just so confused and hurt – missing my husband still so much. I guess grief doesn’t make any sense – the heart just wants what it wants.
    Is any of this normal when you are living day in & day out with unrelenting grief?

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Quite frankly, almost everything is normal when dealing with unrelenting grief, and this sort of situation is common. I think you’re right about subconsciously seeing this fellow as a stand-in for your husband. When you lose such an integral part of your life to death, your “body’s mind,” the so-called lizard brain searches for the other half of your “survival unit,” and when it can’t find him (or her), it goes into panic mode. I don’t think this dream has anything to do with anything except your body/mind trying to find a way back to what feels familiar. Also, when grieving such a traumatic loss, your hormones of all kinds go into overdrive. Adrenaline and sex hormones surge. (The dream could be just a manifestation of those hormones.) You brain chemistry also changes. (This is one of the things that makes such profound grief so confusing — not only do you grieve mentally and emotionally and spiritually, but you grieve physically too.) Grief does horrible things to people, but as long as you don’t make any quick decisions, you’ll be fine. And yes, the heart wants what it wants, and so it too grieves because it can never again get what it really wants. If/when you are ready for another relationship, you will know and you will not be confused at all, but it will probably be a long time before you are ready. (From talking to so many people who have lost a spouse, generally, it takes at least four years before you find a sense of renewal). Also, I’m sure you’re smart enough to know that you really weren’t cheating on your husband. Most dreams are just the body/mind processing what is going on in all phases of your body/mind/soul. If you want to find something more than that in the dream, then consider that according to Freud, all the characters in our dreams are different manifestations of ourselves. But whatever, I understand that it was a confusing and perhaps horrifying and titillating experience. But it was completely normal. You are not crazy — you are grieving. Hoping you find moments of peace.

  47. Proposal for a Book About Grief | Bertram's Blog Says:

    […] The Five Major Challenges We Face During the Second Year of Grief […]

  48. Janet Griffin Says:

    I had the sudden loss of my dear loving husband on November 28, 2014. The day after Thanksgiving. It has been so helpful for me to have found this website and read what others are going through after losing their loved ones. It seems as though people expect me to be the same person I once was but I will never be the same. When my husband passed away after 44 years of marriage, my whole world turned upside down. I feel as though I carry a heavy burden more to do to carry on and take care of. My husband took care of a lot, I have two grown sons. I cried when my oldest son said Happy Father’s Day on social media to family and friends. I know his heart was broken that was this pass Sunday, Father’s Day, June 17, 2018. It will be four years November 28, 2018. My pain and longing for my husband is still so deep. Yes, I carry on but deep inside I am hurting. I am so sorry for all who have lost love ones and are going through heartache and pain. I feel blessed to have found this website and to know that what I feel is normal.
    Thank you so very much. I am on a journey but don’t know where I’ll end up. The future frightens me.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I am so sorry about your husband. There is no way you can be the same person now as you were then. The hurt lasts so much longer than we (or anyone) can believe. And how can it not? The person who anchored us to life is gone, and now we have to create a new way of being. And no, you don’t know where you will end up. Grief is like a wave, and all we can do is go with the flow of that wave without ever knowing where it will deposit us. But I believe in the power of grief to take us where we need to be. It’s what helped me hang on during all the years of pain. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about still grieving. Unless they have also lost a spouse, they cannot understand the pure angst of dealing with the utter finality of death on this earth. Of course you still miss him, and you always will, but the pain and the longing will subside to a more manageable level. (Though there might always be upurges, such as the birth of a grandchild or greatgrandchild since your husband won’t be there for the event and should be.) As for the future frightening you — If I think about it, I’m still frightened. It’s hard enough growing old and feeble when you have someone, and so much harder when all you have is you. If you ever need to “talk” feel free to stop by. I understand as well as anyone can.

      • Janet Griffin Says:

        Sorry I started writing and must have hit the wrong key everything disappeared. Pat I am thankful and grateful to you for you response to me. It made me feel good, believe me I was in tears before I decided to check my e-mail. Of course what else? I was thinking about my husband. I try to keep busy trying to fill the void but there comes a time when I have to just let go. I am sorry for your loss too. It is not easy. My mother had the loss of her husband and her son, my oldest and one and only brother. My mother seems to never speak of my husband if so it is very rare. I am sure she knows the pain I feel, I try to talk to her about other things.
        Thank you again. I feel lonely at times. Sometimes I just want to be alone. The hardest part is knowing that my husband will never walk through the door. I do write to him in my journal, I also write poetry as a way of expressing my pain.

        • Pat Bertram Says:

          The loneliness that comes with grief is odd. There are times the loneliness is so painful you don’t know how to stand it, but it’s not just company we want, but the company of that one person we can’t see again for the rest of our lives. Despite the pain, there is comfort in being alone, especially if others don’t understand our grief. Writing to your husband is a good thing. I did that for many years. Made me feel as if we were still connected somehow, as if our shared life were still continuing. Much of grief still mystifies me. If death is an important part of life, why does it cause so much pain? On the other hand, I would hate to have felt no pain at his death. With him to leave with no one caring would be an even greater sorrow. Because grief is not the problem. Their being gone is the problem, and there is no way to ever make their absence tolerable. I wish you well. Comment when you need to connect in this brief way with someone who’s been there.

  49. Gilly Jacobs Says:

    I lost my brother 26/4/17 and I can’t imagine this getting better. We were both divorced so we spent a lot of time together, seeing each other, chatting on the phone, we were best friends. He died so unexpectedly, one minute there, the next gone.
    I can’t accept its forever, as I write the tears well up again. Everything reminds me of him. I was in the middle of selling our house after 24 years and I don’t even know how we did it. My son was very close to him as he doesn’t see his father, so we are both still reeling from this. Four months and 4 days after he died one of my closest girlfriends suddenly died. I don’t even think I have been able to grieve for her as it felt like an overload. This has changed my life forever, nothing feels safe, I don’t feel like going anywhere much and I yearn for him all the time. They were the two people I spoke to the most and I feel like I have just closed down, no one really knows “me” and I feel like I have to hide what I really feel. I miss him so much, it hurts like anything and the world makes no sense to me. All the things we shared, I could truly be myself with him…..Col I miss u, nothing can ever be the way it was and that is so hard to fathom…..

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I’m sorry about your brother and your friend. That is a lot of loss to have to deal with all at once. Of course it’s changed your life. You cannot be the same when you lose the person who connects you to life and yourself. I wish I had words that would make things feel better, but the truth is there are no words. It will not always be so painful, I promise, but it will take a long time. You are just at the beginning stages of learning to live without him. Have you looked for a grief support group where you live? Maybe sponsored by hospice? Grief groups don’t necessarily make things better, but at least you won’t have to hide your grief. Grief is so damn hard, and the thing that makes it harder than it needs to be is that the one person who would help us through the trauma is the very person who is gone. So not fair! Please stop by again if you need to talk about what you feel. I understand as well as anyone can. Wishing you peace, and if that’s not attainable, then a good night’s sleep.

      • Gilly Jacobs Says:

        Thank you so much for your response and the kind words.
        Its a relief to see that other people are feeling some of the same things (not that I wish that on them)
        Your comment about “Losing the person who connects you to life and yourself” really says it all and thats exactly what it is…and that it will not always be so painful, I promise…I will hold on to that in those dark moments that seem to be often….I can’t help thinking about all the times ahead that we were meant to have, growing older together, getting a house together, its so hard to think of a future that has now gone…
        Thank you again……time to get some rest….

        • Pat Bertram Says:

          In time, though probably not for a couple of more years, you will be able to being imagining a new future for yourself, but now you still have to mourn the future that’s been denied you. That’s why grief is so hard, not only is our loved one gone, but so are all the dreams we shared and the future we planned for. Wishing you a good night’s sleep.

  50. Joe Says:

    I’m at the 18 month marker and it’s just as you and others have said before. The added layer, for me, is that grief support groups, both online and in person, include another kind of invisibility. Everyone assumes the spouse I lost is of the opposite sex. Well, no, we happen to be the same. “Oh. Ohhh… okay.” Yeah. So I don’t describe my experience much except by way of pronouns that can’t be avoided. It’s not that people are hostile, not in this region anyway. Rather, it’s the damn closet all over again. There’s some kind of bereavement gathering this weekend that I registered for a month ago, rather optimistically, but now I am grown cynical again and feel it will be just another form of isolation within a group.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I am truly sorry for this extra level of grief. It’s not fair and it makes an especially horrific time even harder. A friend just joined a same sex grief support group, though he hasn’t yet said if it helped. Is there any such thing in your area? If not, would you like me to give him your email address? Maybe it would help to talk to someone dealing with the same dreadful issues. He’s at about 13 or fourteen months. 

      (Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)

      • Joe Says:

        Thanks, I do appreciate the comment. We actually do have such a group locally that just started in August, and I went to the first one, missed the second, hoping for the third one to work out. Sure, give your friend my email address, maybe including your blog name as a reference point so I can rescue it from the spam folder. I may have confused you with someone who commented, but it sounds like you, also, dealt with his long illness. It adds to the complexity: relief for the end of his pain and debilitation, glad to not have to worry about him anymore, mixed in with normal and typical grief, loss, etc. It’s like a stew, with melding flavors and textures. Well, I wish I could send this particular dish back to the kitchen. 😦

        • Pat Bertram Says:

          Oh, yes! Definitely a dish we want to send back. And yes, I do understand about death after a long illnesd. It does add a whole other layer to our grief – relief they are no longer suffering, anger that they had to suffer in the first place, guilt that we wished the end would come, angst that it did.

          So much sorrow!

          Incidentally, I gave my friend Michael your email address. He didn’t is also dealing with the loss of his life mate after a long illness.

          Wishing you peace tonight and every night.

          • Michael Says:

            I am so very grateful to you Pat for putting me in touch with Joe. I am what I’ve called myself a “techno-zero” and this is my very first blog experience but I wanted to thank you and Joe for leading me here to connect with others, something I’ve not done in these nearly 14 months since the death of my life mate, except the 2 grief support groups I have participated in. They were both very helpful, although in different ways. The first, last fall, was very early in my new life after the death. So for me the grief was very fresh and raw. But, among other helpful aspects, it helped me realize I was not alone. The second, just several weeks ago, overlapped the 1st anniversary and helped me through that painful experience, among many other benefits. It seems to me as an “infant” (so to speak) in this new life there are some universal grief experiences common to many and others which, in our general culture, are unique, especially for those who still face so many battles in so many ways for acceptance, among many other things. Both groups acknowledged the universal aspects but the most recent addressed a unique aspect in our group. I will try to explain: My eyes are blue. So what? My skin is white. So what? I’m a gay man? So what? These three characteristics I have are just part of who I am, all just part of my DNA. And although the grief and losses I have experienced are so very much like what others WITHOUT blue eyes or white skin (and many other benign characteristics) experience, why should my “orientation” make that grief and those losses any less validated, acceptable or painful for me than someone with a different orientation? Imagine someone saying “I’m so sorry for your loss but imagine how much worse it would be if you had been in a straight relationship?” Or hearing the same comment but replacing the word “straight” with “same sex” or any other type of relationship?? Or “if it had been your youngest son” or whatever and whoever. Um, no, there are not inherently different levels of grief and loss between different types of “marriages” or “partnerships” or whatever term one applies to any type of love relationship. People with blue eyes don’t have it any easier or harder than those with brown. I believe I may have overstated the point but you get the idea. Although I did not experience any “discrimination” for being one of just two gay people in the support group of ten last fall, the recent “LGBT” group (offered by the same organization by the way) provided an opportunity to experience support from a group that had very little potential for discrimination and therefore a more “relaxed” environment. So for me it was not only very satisfying for that reason but also because I’m not as much of an infant as I was before, even though I still often feel infantile in this unfortunate experience life has given me. But I am also grateful for Pat and Joe and Mary and Gary and…….so many other wonderful fellow travelers on this painful though sometimes even beautiful journey. You all remind me every moment that we are not alone. We are not alone!
            For a beautiful musical setting of this sentiment, listen to Stephen Sondheim’s song “No One Is Alone” from his musical “Into The Woods.” Barbara Cook and Bernadette Peters are two of my favorites….
            Thank you for your time.

          • Pat Bertram Says:

            Dear Michael, I am so glad I didn’t make a mistake introducing you to Joe. I worried about being a meddler, but my “mission” to the extent that I have a mission when it comes to grief is to let people know of the similarities we all experience when we lose the person fundamental to our lives. I’m also glad of the note of hope in your comment. We do eventually find our way around the pain to peace and even happiness, but it’s hard not to despair at the beginning. Keep on keeping in touch. It’s always good to hear from you.


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