Grieving the Nothings

I’m gradually moving away from the influence of grief. I’m not moving away grief itself, since there is a good chance that somewhere deep inside I will always be crying (I can feel the gathering tears even when I am not overtly sad), but I am moving away from grief’s influence. I can think clearly again, though the answers to many of my questions about life and death and the meaning of it all remain unanswered. I can focus without being distracted by thoughts of my deceased life mate/soul mate. I am not revved up with anger or guilt or adrenaline. I don’t feel quite as soul-shattered or heart-broken as I did at the beginning, and my yearnings for him are not quite as vast. His absence looms almost as large as his presence once did, but I am getting used to working around the void. I am also getting used to the unwelcome knowledge that I will never see him again in this lifetime, never hear him talk, never be warmed by his smile. (I’m just getting used to the knowledge that I will not see him; I will never get used to the fact.)

But . . . now that the big losses are a bit tamer, the small losses are becoming more apparent. I have no one with whom to share a moment with. You know what I mean — you’re watching a movie and, after a particularly touching scene, you turn to each other and smile. If I turn, no one is there. I sometimes look at his photo at such moments, but there is not much “sharing” when it is between you a piece of tinted paper.

I was also going to say I have no one to share anything with, but that’s not strictly true since I do have people I can share major happenings with. What is true is that there’s no one to share nothing with. There are so many little nothings in a day — miniscule victories or insignificant happenings that aren’t worth talking about, but that you want to mention anyway. And there are times when you’re sad or lonely or restless, and just want a moment’s connection before continuing your daily tasks. You can call someone perhaps, or email, but it’s not the same thing. By the time you make the connection, the moment of nothing has become something.

I also have no one to share the small incongruities and ironies of life with. Once walking in the desert, I saw a television on the road. So totally incongruous, it seemed as if it were an art piece in the making, and I had no one to tell about it in passing.  Today I went to the dentist to have him check on a small matter, and he told me to eat lots of sticky candy. The irony of the advice tickled me (I mean, really, when was the last time your dentist told you to eat lots of sticky candy?), and I had no one to tell that to in passing, either.

Come to think of it, there is no “in passing” anymore.

I made it through some of the major traumas of grief. Now I have to try to make it through the nothings.

9 Responses to “Grieving the Nothings”

  1. mlfhunt Says:

    Great post, Pat. We are in a similar place…you said it well especially that you are getting used to the knowledge without getting used to the fact of his absence. Very well said. There are so many moments that go “unshared” after so many years of sharing so many…so many fleeting feelings that never get spoken because Bill is no where to be found…so many insights, ideas, and more….nothings….lots and lots of nothings…and everythings. I do have to say that sometimes the tears still just gush…without my expecting them. I still feel hypersensitive and very vulnerable …small things/big things can get to me so easily causing tears, hurt, and more. It is a long journey…March 27, 2010 has not ended…nor will it ever.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I still cry, too, but I’m getting so used to the sudden tears that I don’t register them much any more, or maybe I mean I don’t remember them as much. They are just part of the fabric of my life.

      I truly never knew that well-adjusted people could go through such grief. There is such an element of unreality about it, that you can only see it from the inside out.

  2. derya deniz Says:

    My husband passed away 14 days ago,so I am very close to death. I don’t want to live anymore… it is impossible to admit his absence. I saw your blog and your grief and your feelings and I totally sympathize with you… I don’t know how I can survive :(((((((((((((((

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Fourteen days? Oh, no! I am so very sorry. Tears are streaming down my face as I write this — I am sad for you, for me, for all of us who have to deal with life after the death of a mate. We do survive, though we often don’t want to and have no idea how to survive even if we did want to. At fourteen days I was so soul-broken and heart-shattered that I could barely breathe. Sometimes the pain was so great I felt like screaming, so I did. The pain did lessen, though it is still there and always will be, but it doesn’t consume me as it once did.

    • Joy Collins Says:

      My heart breaks for you. I too remember that all-consuming, heart-wrenching new grief. And I wanted to die then too. I still do. Not as before. But “there is nothing for me here” kind of feeling. Please hang on and continue to reach out. We are here for each other. No one else can understand this kind of grief except one who is going through it too.

    • leesis Says:

      Like Pat I am so very sorry for your loss and for the agony you are now in. This is the worst experience we ever have and it is shattering. But you can survive…one step at a time. Cry, scream, reach out to others even when some of those others won’t handle it well. Read Pats book about her journey…when you are able to concentrate. It will get less intense but its true that grief is a process that lasts years not weeks and months as some suggest when it comes to life partners. But this time will get better and we can survive it…one step at a time…one breath at a time. Even rebuild and thrive again…eventually.

      I know right now this is impossible to believe but I just wanted you to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

  3. Joy Collins Says:

    It is the nothings that make up our life. It is the nothings that I treasure. Our day was full of nothings that we shared every day. I came to expect them, took them for granted. Now I wish I still had them. I still catch myself thinking I should tell John something, or I need to ask him something, or I want to share something, and then the realization hits me all over again like a blast of cold water. May 24 is looming and I am afraid of it. The tears have been coming every day. This month is hard.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      May 24th. Thank you, Joy. I meant to ask you when your second anniversary was. There seem to be so many sad anniversaries to remember now.

      I have no real interest in cat photos, though J. loved cats and used to save pictures of them since he was too sick to have one of his own. I saw a photo the other day of a wide-eyed kitten looking out a window that J. would absolutely love, and I saved it for him. I do not think we are equipped to understand the truth of their goneness, so we have to deal with the constant re-realizations.

      Will be thinking of you on the 24th.

      • Joy Collins Says:

        Thanks, Pat. My heart still doesn’t believe this. I keep thinking “this can’t have happened”. Not to John. Not to us. I wonder if that feeling will ever go away.


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