The Final Resting Place for My Grief

I’ve been working on my new book Grief: The Great Yearning for the past couple of months, trying to get it as perfect as possible for publication, though I doubt anyone will notice if there are any typos. So, far, no one has been able to read it without weeping, and tears would mask any imperfections.

The text has been ready for over a month, but for some reason, the printer kept smearing the back cover copy. This sort of delay drove me nuts with my other books, but I’ve been patient with this one. I know it’s important to get it published, and yet I’m ambivalent. Do I really want all those raw emotions let loose on the world? Forever after, I will be a grieving woman. Even if I find happiness in some unimaginable future, my grief will still be there in my words, as desperate and real and profound as the day I felt them.

Today I received the final proof, and it is perfect. (Well, perfect except for the typo or two I have since found, but I am NOT going to worry about those.)

I’m sitting here weeping as I write this. I don’t know why the publication of this book makes the death of my life mate/soul mate final, but it does. His death and my grief are no longer my personal affair, but something real, something books are made of. He has no funeral plot, no memorial, no epitaph engraved for all eternity. Or rather, he didn’t have those things. Now he does — this book is his epitaph, his memorial, the final resting place for my grief.

It’s as if the past thirty-six years, and especially the past twenty-three months culminated in this one moment tonight when I held the book in my hands. Where did it all go? Where did he go? Where did my love go? How can our shared life, begun with such hope and radiance, have ended already?

I know now there are worse deaths than his, and there are worse fates than mine, but still, this wasn’t the way things were supposed to end. We always took care of ourselves, didn’t make stupid or foolish decisions, didn’t act rashly. We were kind to each other, looked out for each other, respected each other. We shared as much as is possible for two people to share. And this is how it ended: between the covers of a 166 page book.

It will still be a few days before Grief: The Great Yearning appears on Amazon in print and Kindle, and a few more days before it shows up on B&N, Apple, and the various other ebook sources, but my part is finished. And suddenly, I don’t want to let go.

8 Responses to “The Final Resting Place for My Grief”

  1. Deborah Owen Says:

    I think your feelings are natural. It’s difficult to let go and face an uncertain future.

    Congratulations on the release of your book. If you’d like to send me an article regarding editing or writing, I would be happy to advertise it for you. Include a 50-word blurb about yourself at the bottom and advertise your book.

    I know this is a tough week and I’m praying for you daily. Hang on, hon. This, too, shall pass. Deb

  2. Lisa Says:

    Profound. I don’t really have anything to add to what you’ve said, other than to thank you for saying it.

  3. Joy Collins Says:

    I think I understand how you feel, Pat. But I look at it as honoring your grief and your relationship. It’s saying you and your love existed. For always, your love and your relationship exists. It mattered and matters.
    But I also think I understand the sadness at seeing it all come down to this. I think there is a little part of our hearts [at least for me] that still clings to this as not being real.
    And seeing the book in solid form makes it all too sadly real.
    Does that make any sense?

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      That’s a good way of looking at it, Joy, as a way of honoring my grief and our relationship. I need to keep being reminded that life matters. And yes, there is a bit of me that clings to this as not being real. Your words make perfect sense. As I wrote to one of my bereft friends last night, “All of a sudden it is too damn real. He never is coming back, is he? It really is over. I feel as if I have been playing at grief these past months, and now playtime is finished, and real life begins. I don’t want to do this for the rest of my life.” And yet, there is no choice, is there? We have to live without them for the rest of our lives.

      A woman who is long divorced is sort of amazed at how I feel since she has no use for men. But he wasn’t “men.” He was my best friend, my confidante, my companion, the friend in my retreat. I’ve talked to you enough now to know you had the same sort of all-encompassing relationship. And now we don’t. And it’s too sadly real.

      • Joy Collins Says:

        Amen. This can never be compared to divorce. Divorce is a breakdown, a tearing apart. A totally different kind of ending, or symbolic death.
        In our situations, we never wanted this. What we had [and still have in some respect] was continually evolving all-encompassing love. Loving John was just what my life was. It wasn’t something we did. We had our home. We were home to each other. We loved each other totally. We were complete.
        And now I’m not. It’s like someone blew a big hole in the side of my house and I am expected to live in it now and be OK with that.
        I can’t. I never will.

  4. leesis Says:

    Pat…if there’s anything in the notion of people sending energy to each other please accept my hug.

    The pain you are experiencing, have experienced from his initial diagnosis through to his going to this “final resting place” is just the worst of all pains in my assessment. The book makes it final. It is final. I wish there were words to both acknowledge the intensity and express my deepest empathy.

    Your bravery to write about this so honestly and well means you touch hearts and your mind (which I dig by the way) allows you to express some darn sensible critique of the way grief is handled. You have always had my deepest admiration and respect.

    Folk need to read what you write Pat because taking the path of professionals or the many paths of avoidance destroys whole lives not just the grievers but all those close. We don’t support grievers well. We need to be better at it. I think your book will save emotional lives. I read some of the comments some folk write on your blog and know that you’ve given them the permission to grieve. This is big. As I said you have my admiration and respect.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      From the beginning, you have believed in me, and I have needed your belief. I also needed to know that life matters, as you say on your blog, and when I had no belief of my own, I clung to yours.

      Oddly, until recently, there has been no bravery to my writing about grief, but now the thought of being so publicly vulnerable panics me. But if not me, who?

      Thank you for your support during the past two years. And thank you for your kind words.

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