Someone stopped by my blog this morning to comment that her husband passed away fourteen days ago, and I started crying. I wept for her, for me, for all of us who have had to deal with the soul-breaking and heart-shattering pain of new grief. (Sometimes the only way I had to keep from bursting with the pain was to scream. I’d never screamed before, but I often screamed during the first weeks of grief.)
I don’t know how any of us survive such agony and angst, but somehow we manage to keep taking one breath at a time. As the months pass, the pain does lessen, though according to others further along in the grief process, the sadness never completely goes away. And always, we revisit grief on the anniversary of the death.
There are so many sad anniversaries for me to remember now. May 24. July 23. July 26. March 7. March 27. October 14. All days when someone who was very loved died and left a grief-stricken soul mate behind. I’ve seen much pain these past couple of years from my fellow bereft but even more courage. It takes courage to continue to live, courage to struggle to accept the changes that death brought, courage to strive for understanding, (especially for those who wish to be done with life).
Sometimes I see only the pain of grief — eyes blank, bodies tensed, hearts bleeding — but sometimes I am privileged to see the light shining through the grief as the bereft find new hope and new meaning.
Where does grief lead us? I don’t know. People often equate grief to a journey, which makes us think we are going somewhere, but grief seems to be more of a process, turning us inside out, stretching our minds, souls, psyches so that we can learn to live with our new reality and find peace (and maybe even happiness) alongside the continued sadness.
Despite whatever dubious benefits and insights I have gained through the experience, I would not wish this process on anyone, and so I weep for those who are newly born into the world of grief.
May 16, 2012 at 11:48 am
I, too, mourn for the losses of others. I also write poetry. It is a wonderful outlet. But I have found that repeated sadness has become a double-edged sword, dangling continuously over my head. I am dysthymic – a perpetually sad person – and any additional sadness brings about what they call double depression. I now understand why the majority of artistic people are so prone to melancholy and its consequences. We are never really, really happy people, although we may have our days of lightness.
May 18, 2012 at 1:32 pm
i just came across your blog yesterday. My soul mate. life mate, play mate died suddenly 9 months ago at the age of 52, on my 41st birthday. The shock was, and still is, immense. I still live in a state of mostly denial. Cannot understand how I can, how I do, go on, one day after another. How I hate this new reality, how I yearn to join him. How I want to believe that there is something more, something else, that I will be with him again. I read your posts written around your 2nd anniversary and it was actually, strangely perhaps, comforting, to finally hear someone say that it doesn’t all just magically get better. I hear this all the time, and I just cannot imagine how it will be so. Granted, because of my age, most of my friends have no experience in this realm. I would never wish this on my worst enemy. It is the most horrible experience. Like you, I screamed during the first few months (and have never in my life screamed before, didn’t even think I could). I hide my sorrow now. I act as is expected when in public. What else can we do. I say I’m ok when people ask. They don’t understand; for which I am, in a way, grateful;I hope they never will. I weep at seemingly nothing. I miss him, miss him, miss him. I feel so broken and I so long for this life to be over. I pray for relief and release every night before I go to bed. Thank you for saying that the pain does indeed lessen. I hope so. you are a wise woman and write well. I will read your blog in more detail. Thank you sharing so eloquently.
May 18, 2012 at 3:49 pm
Malene, I am so very sorry. It is the hardest we ever have to do — continuing to live after the death of a soul mate. It doesn’t just magically get better, time doesn’t heal, and you don’t just “move on.” From what I hear, the grief never goes away, but it does get easier. Supposedly, it takes three to five years until we find a renewed interest in life.
Unless a person has been where we are, they cannot imagine that such grief exists. They only have platitudes and a growing impatience with our sorrow, so we have to learn to be patient with ourselves. I’d lost a mother and a brother, so I thought I knew what grief was, but the all-consuming grief I felt after the death of my soul mate came as a total shock. (And I knew he was sick and dying, so I can only guess at the horror you experienced.)
This is what I wrote in my “I am a nine-month grief survivor” blog: “I struggle to understand his goneness. Sometimes the need to go home to him over-whelms me, and I have to learn — again -— that his being gone from this life means I can never go home. He was my home. Someday I might learn to find “home” within myself, but until then, I am adrift in a world that once again feels inhospitable. During those first days and weeks of struggling to survive grief, I kept screaming to myself, ‘I can’t do this.’ I still feel like screaming those words occasionally, but I have learned that yes, I can survive this, because I have. And I will continue to survive.”
I don’t know how we survive, but we do.
Wishing you peace.
May 19, 2012 at 3:02 pm
Thank you, Pat for your kind words and attention. You put words to almost exactly what I feel. I wish I had your way with them, I do not. However, reading your thoughts and feelings about your own journey momentarily helps release the emotional pressure (is that weird?) from within as, I imagine, does writing it out for you.
May 19, 2012 at 3:47 pm
Malene, no it isn’t weird. Grief is so isolating that it’s important to know that you are not alone in your feelings. Whatever you feel, whatever you have done to get through another day, others have done.
It was a bit strange to discover I had a talent for writing about grief, but it’s been a blessing to be able to put into words what so many of us are feeling. Grief throws a million different emotions at you all at once, and it’s almost impossible to sort them all out, but I’ve been trying to do that.