Grief Update — Twenty-Three Months

Twenty-three months ago my life mate/soul mate died. There are times when his goneness from my life is as fresh as the day he died, and other times, like today, I can take it in stride. Of course, I’m dealing with a bad cold right now, and I need to keep my focus firmly on myself since grief depresses the immune system, so I’m not allowing myself to think of his being dead, and I’m not allowing myself to think of all the lonely years ahead.

Whether I take my new life in stride, or whether I dissolve into tears, it still comes down to the same thing — that he is dead. The world seemed to dim the day he died, and in all these months, the brightness never returned. I don’t know if it ever will.

People keep telling me not to live in the past, yet at the same time, they tell me that he lives in my memory. Seems contradictory, doesn’t it? My memory is the past. (Or is the past my memory?) And anyway, it’s impossible to live in the past. It’s . . . passed. Even if I could go to the past, where would I go? So much of our time together was unhappy. How could it have been otherwise with his ill heath? Even thoughts of our incredible meeting almost thirty-six years ago bring me sadness. I remember how intelligent and vibrant, wise and radiant he was, and then I remember his end where he was so drugged he could barely string two words together. But I loved him at the beginning and I loved him at the end and I still love him today.

They tell me love doesn’t die, and apparently that is true, but what does one do with a love that has no end? It’s like live wire with no grounding. Some day, I imagine, I will find a grounding, perhaps in my writing.

Today, for the first time in a long while, I felt the joy of writing. (And I had the concentration for it, something that has been missing for the past few years, not just since his death, but during the hellacious two years that preceded it.) I’m collaborating with other Second Wind Publishing authors on Rubicon Ranch, and today I had to write my chapter. My character is easy to write — she is struggling to survive the death of her husband, and somehow death keeps finding her. Art imitating life? Or just my finding it impossible to imagine being anyone else but a woman struggling to survive the loss of her mate?

The struggle for survival and autonomy still forms my days. Even when I don’t think of him, I know he is absent. Even when I don’t consciously yearn for him, something deep inside me reaches out for him. We were deeply connected for a very long time, and twenty-three months doesn’t even begin to lessen that bond.

12 Responses to “Grief Update — Twenty-Three Months”

  1. Mary Says:

    Hi pat, We share this date and always will….23 months today. The yearning we share also. and pain. I thought of you today as we both awoke to memories of this day. Like you I kept myself busy most of the day.

    I hope your flu bug is finding an exit from your body.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      It is odd to share this date, even odder to think of how important the date is. Somehow, during all the years of his dying, I never thought of such things, and now I’ll never forget. We used to discuss who had it worse. I thought he did, of course — he was the one who had to deal with the pain of dying. But he knew the truth — I had it worse since I have to deal with the pain of living.

      Take special care of yourself this next month.

      • Mary Says:

        It is strange…I have little memory of the three or four months after Bill died but could almost reconstruct the month before he died moment by moment…our final month together, and now it is almost 2 years later…feels like a century since that awful moment.

  2. Joy Collins Says:

    Last week [the 21st] was 21 months for me. And I can so relate to what you write. The gone-ness is what is so overwhelming. And that thought – that John is gone from me physically – just never leaves me. I wake up with it. I go to sleep with it. And it is with me all day, no matter what I do. Part of the reason I guess is that John and I were together 24/7 and now we are apart 24/7. Most of the time I am able to keep on trudging along, knowing the reality is there. But there are those moments when it hits fresh all over again. And the weekly aniversary – the Sunday night – the night he passed – is still so hard.

    • Mary Says:

      Joy, I agree…the reality is always there no matter what I am doing. Bill and I were also together almost 24/7 best friends, co-workers in our private practice, etc. yes, Saturday mornings are hard and the ambushes-tsunamis of grief-come often dragging me to the bottom of the dark wild seas. Somehow we go on.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Joy, it was the same for us. Always together, now always apart. For you, it’s Sunday night — for me, Friday night and Saturday. (He died at 1:40 am Friday night, which can be taken to mean he died on Friday or Satuday, and my body takes it both ways.) We’ll get through this. Or not. This might be all we ever have, though I hope we manage to find a bit of happiness despite our sadness.

      • Joy Collins Says:

        What is it about those night-time deaths? Those middle of the night losses? John too died during the night and so I wonder what do I honor/fear/dread? Sunday night when he actually left? Early Monday morning when I found him and this journey started? Regardless, the pain is always there. The heart knows and will never forget.

  3. Linda Says:

    Hi Pat, I’m back for my 2nd round about the same time as last year. I’ve just passed the 2.5 year mark of my son Nathan’s fatal car accident. You and the other lady were talking about ‘night time’ deaths. I don’t like that word death tho. I
    Prefer to use ‘move’ as I feel it’s a change in spirit form and our Loved one REALLY is still with us. Or we will unite with them again in spirit again some day. For me, it’s been my Faith that
    Has carried me thru this very excruciating arduous journey people call ‘grief’ … back to the night time … Nathan’s accident occurred at 230am and I STILL have insomnia (it’s 134 am now) & it’s almost my BD again 🙂 on Mar 28… I’m happy to report that for me personally the road thru this experience has gotten easier which, as you pointed out, does not at all mean I still don’t have my grief spells cuz I do .. They don’t last for days now and don’t put me down in bed like they use to, Thank
    God! On Mar 8th, Nathan’s ‘move to Heaven’ reached the two & a half year mark’ which us the first time I stopped saying his time in months. I wonder what I’ll say to myself on April 8th? I guess I’m thinking out loud this might be progress in my thinking? Hell, I don’t know & I can hear him, Nathan, who would now be 32 lol with me :d … Bottom line.. I guess I’m trying to encourage those of you heading into your 3rd year that the anguish of the loss does lessen IF you will yourself to move forward and choose to live a happy life. I made the choice .. For Nathan, my living son .. And for me … And for my
    Family, friends and others I can help to do just this … I choose to live rather than let the grief swallow me whole. Certainly, my Faith gives me the strength to do this and I am very Grateful for this :):):) … Likewise, I’m grateful for your blog Pat. My best to you and all that post here. May the Light shine on your days. Linda

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      It’s all you can do, isn’t it, choose to live rather than let grief swallow you whole? Somehow it seems like an affront to those who left us to stop living. It’s hard at times, though, this living. Thank you for stopping by to let us know how you are doing.

  4. Linda Says:

    Hi again,
    This is possibly a summarized duplicate. I posted an update explaining I had not seen your recent posts til i researched out of curiosity. The last blogs I saw were from 2012 so I updated based on our mutual timeframes of 30 months & 1000 days and explained how I ‘jumped’ from ‘complicated grief’ to a level of ‘acceptance’
    or a somewhat redefined ‘happy joy’ & yes … with peace … Rather than duplicate, I will cut to the chase and say, it dawned on me that this is what I taught my two Sons, one of whom now resides in another ‘form’ occupying another ‘realm’ (as per my belief) and … I raised two sons, one alive, to ‘find their passion and joy … To be happy in their pursuit of life .. so I need to walk my talk and be an example so as to not hinder them and others from doing the very same. And … To my joy, I have been able to watch them & others be joyful & happy (thru signs, messages, the like) as they witness my amazing transformation from debilitating, bed bound complicated grief to the desire & will of living a happy, joyful, peaceful life … Wishing & praying the same for all of you :):):)

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      It’s hard to believe when we’re is in the depths of grief that we can ever find joy again, but most of us do. How wonderful that you taught your sons to be happy in the pursuit of life — that is a great gift you gave them, and now it’s coming back to you. I’m glad you’re finding transformation. Wishing you peace and joy.

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