Grief: Overflowing Into the Empty Places

During all these months of posting blogs about my grief journey, I never understood their emotional impact on others. To me, writing the posts was all about finding words to explain how I felt so that perhaps those who had never experienced the loss of a soul mate could understand a little of what their bereft friends and family are feeling. But even more than that, it was about finding a measure of peace.

Grief is a difficult journey, and it’s made even more difficult when you lose a life mate/soul mate because the one person you need to turn to for support is the one who is gone. It’s also why, for some people, grief grows during the second and perhaps even the third year — the further you get away from your mate and your shared life, the more you need to talk to him about your bewilderment at his being so very gone from your life. You want to talk with him about the changes you’ve made in your life, to discuss ways of continuing to live without him, to share bits of your journey and show your growth. But he is not here to respond, and never will be again.

I’ve used this blog as a way of crying out to cyberspace, flinging my words to the electronic winds, sharing all those thoughts I can no longer share with him. And oddly (to me, anyway since it was never my intention) my grief somehow ends up overflowing into the empty spaces between the words, just as my sadness overflows into the empty spaces of my life. This emotional overflow is even odder when you consider that often when I write the posts, I am not feeling particularly bereft.

Yesterday I noticed that one of my grief blogs was getting an upsurge of views, and out of curiosity, I scanned the article to see what had caught people’s attention. Unexpectedly, the emotion of my words slipped through my usual editorial block and slammed into me. I started weeping. I don’t know how all that emotion ended up in a few hundred squiggles on a webpage (because, after all, letters are simply squiggles with no intrinsic meaning except that which we give them), but the sorrow is undeniable.

I’ve never been able to read my grief book all the way through. I had to edit in bits and pieces, and to depend on others to copyedit the book for me. All that angst just waiting between the covers of a book! I don’t quite know what to make of it. I don’t know why it was so important to me to show people that grieving is okay and even necessary, don’t know how so much of myself ended up in the book, don’t know where I got the courage to be publicly vulnerable. And yet, there it is, or rather, it there it will be in a couple of weeks when the book is finally released.

5 Responses to “Grief: Overflowing Into the Empty Places”

  1. Mary Friedel-Hunt Says:

    Like you, Pat, I have developed this all but obsessive need to educate the entire world about how to deal with grief in themselves and in others. I KNOW it is because I wish more people, especially family whose dealings with me have added to my pain, knew what to do and say as I grieve so deeply this incredibly difficult loss. I understand your not being able to read your book all at one time….it is hard to see the print for the tears that flow as one reads. You are a brave lady and you will help others by your vulnerability.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Mary, I’ve met several people via this blog who share our need to educate. In my case, I was stunned by the power of my grief, partly because I thought I’d already dealt with it before he died, but mostly because I hadn’t a clue that the loss of a mate would feel like an amputation. I’d heard of people who had a hard time with grief, but other people always dismissed the bereft as overdramatizing or being neurotic or acting crazy, and I truly did not, could not fathom the truth until it hit me with all the subtlety of an asteroid. I do not overdramatize and I am not neurotic — In fact, I am exceedingly sane and well-adjusted, which is why I know my feelings are true and the general perceptions about grief from those who have never experienced such a loss are skewed.

      • Mary Friedel-Hunt Says:

        Amen to that. Yes, I totally agree. I guess it is good that I could not anticipate this pain…I would have fallen apart when Bill needed me most. As it was, I fell short of the expectations I have of myself.

  2. careann Says:

    I just know this book is going to minister to many grieving hearts, Pat. You’ve opened yourself, and poured out the pain in a way that will help others know they aren’t alone in what they’re experiencing. I look forward to getting my hands on a copy when it’s available.

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