Two Years and One Day of Grief

Today I embark on my third year of grief since the death of my life mate/soul mate, and I am now in uncharted territory.

The first year of grief passes in a blur of angst, emotional shock, myriad physical reactions, painful surprises about the nature of loss and grief, and the almost impossible effort of going through the chores of living.

The second year of grief is one of learning to deal with the truth that he is dead, and that there is nothing you can do about it. No matter how well you deal with your grief, no matter how you rise to the challenge of life without him, he is not coming back. You knew this, of course, but now it has seeped deeper into your consciousness, and you feel it with every breath you take. Because of this, the second year (or at least parts of it) can be worse than the first. What makes the second year even harder to face is that you’ve used your grief card. Everyone thinks you should be over your grief, and they have little patience for your continued tears. They urge you to get on with your life, but they don’t understand that this is how you are getting on with your life.

The third year of grief is . . . I don’t yet know since this is only the first day of this new year. Today feels no different from yesterday or the day before, and I don’t imagine tomorrow will feel any different.

During the past two years, I’ve been looking for the bedrock of my new life — the thing, the idea, the place, whatever that bedrock might be — that gives me a foundation on which to build a future. Mostly, I’ve been waiting for my grief to dissipate so I can find my way, but the truth is, I will always grieve for him, though perhaps not as actively as I have been, because he will always be dead.

Acceptance is supposed to be one of the stages of grief, but I’ve never actually reached that stage (nor did I experience most of the supposed stages of grief). I cannot accept that he is dead for the simple reason that it’s not my place to accept it. Acceptance to me suggests that it is okay, and I will never believe that it is okay for him to be dead (even though I do understand the necessity of it). Perhaps acceptance only means that I accept the reality of my continued sorrow and loneliness.

People tell me that you never do get over such a grievous loss, but that after three to five years you rediscover the importance of living. It might be easier to meet the future head-on if I’m not expecting my sadness to dissipate. Maybe this is my bedrock — the missing, the yearning, the sadness, the loneliness. If so, I just need to accept that they are part of my life, and build from there.

11 Responses to “Two Years and One Day of Grief”

  1. Deborah Owen Says:

    I think you’ve hit on something. “Maybe it’s just a matter of accepting that this is the way I will feel, and then go from there.”

    I’ve been thinking a lot about you today. Best, Deb

  2. drwhit Says:

    Your pain comes through, Pat, but I think you’ve analyzed well. It’s okay to continue to be sad, to miss him, to have days when you simply can’t function. But you’re such a talented writer that I know you will begin to pour your grief on paper…in whatever form it takes, and perhaps move on with you own importance of living. Your writing can help pull others from grief along with yourself. Get those raw emotions out. You can inspire others to step back out into the world with a renewed commitment to do something special for yourself or someone else who really needs you. I’m hugging you through cyberspace. Best of luck to you.

    Susan Whitfield

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Thank you, Susan. That first book was so painful, both to write and to read, I’m not sure the world could handle another one, though I might attempt a book about the second year of grief.

  3. Kristin Green Says:

    Pat, i stumbled upon your blog by simply googling ” the second year of grief harder than the first” I lost my husband in March of 2011. It was sudden , no time for I love yous or Goodbye. I cant explain how thankful I was to find your blog. Reading it was like seeing my own thoughts in print. I have been unable to explain how I feel, but you did it for me. It was such a releif and blessing to find this blog and know that Yes, indeed someone else out there knows….. I print out some of your bloggings and take them to my grief counselor and I say to him ” this is how I feel” Your blog was a real godsend to me. Prior to finding it, I felt so so so alone. I am 41 and this just wasnt supossed to happen to me so young, my friends are all married and raising kids, its so hard to know where to fit in… Thanks again ..Keep Blogging … God Bless, Kristin G.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Kristen, losing a husband is very hard, one of the worst and most stressful things that can happen to a person, and yet so few people know anything about such grief. That’s why I started writing about my experiences — grief at the loss of spouse is totally different than losing a sibling or even a parent, which makes it hard. Everyone thinks they know what you are going through, but only a person who has been there can come close to understanding. I’m glad my words helped. Grief is so isolating, we need to know we are not alone. And it’s so bewildering, it’s almost impossible to figure out what is happening to us.

      Parts of the second year were devastating for me. The eighteen month mark was almost as bad as the first month (as it is for most of us who have lost our mates). Be assured that, as painful as these upsurges in grief are, they are perfectly normal.

      Stop by any time if you need to talk.

      Wishing you peace.

  4. Ginger Lentz Says:

    I lived with the thought ok..make it thru a year and you will be ok…..for 1 whole year I lived with that….then….I realized it was getting harder….and peoples lives goes on…and you feel like yours can not…you want to shout …this still hurts.,,,,,,does anyone still remember?….Sometimes I wish the fog was back…..Thank you for your words…they hit a soft/sore spot…

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Ginger, that is exactly what I experienced. I held fast to the idea of getting through the first year, but then afterward came the realization that he was still dead and I was still missing him. That was very painful. It still is. As bad as the first year was, we had the fog to protect us. Without the fog comes another level of hurt. I don’t know how anyone ever survives this, but apparently we do.

  5. Debbie probably still angry Says:

    I liked what you said about the grief card. I rarely speak about my grief anymore because of that. I am 2 years and 7 months into the loss of my husband, whom I both liked and loved. I often joked that we still liked each other after 20 years. I was thinking this morning and questioning myself about why I have chosen such a hard lifestyle after he was gone. I immediately started working long hours, seven days a week. At first I knew I was avoiding the grief but now Im almost three years into it and the hours are even longer and I can’t help but wonder what I am doing. I challenged myself mentally and physically and even started running in races and obstacle courses which is something I have never done. I find myself harder now and probably less sensitive to others feelings and without fear for the most part because I feel like the worse thing that could happen to me, did. Sometimes I think maybe I’m just trying to speed up the process of my death with this push. I didn’t take to drinking or drugs to cope because of our son, but probably subconsciously I hope things will speed up. Selfish, I know. Anyway, I was surprised that the grief came upon me out of the blue this morning after all this time and thought I’d share it. Thanks for your insight.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I am so sorry, Debbie. It’s such a terrible thing losing your husband. We all deal with the devastating loss in our own ways. Even if you are avoiding your grief by all the challenges, it could also be your way of embracing life. It’s one of the hardest things we have to do — find ways to go on without the person who made it all worthwhile. Me? I alternate between challenging myself and treating myself. Nothing when it comes to grief is selfish. It is something that is thrust on us without our will and we’re left to cope with it the best way we can. If it helps any, people tell me that they still experience grief upsurges after ten or even fifteen years. Thank you for telling me about your experience.

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